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April 14, 2005

Open thread 39
Posted by Teresa at 11:27 AM *

“Where are your nonfiction novels?”

Comments on Open thread 39:
#1 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 11:42 AM:

I would jump up and down and say "First post!" but that's immature and brings back a bad CompuServe memory, so instead I'll just ask how to get Pepsi off a Dell LCD flat-panel monitor.

"Non-fiction novels" indeed.

Love the hamsters.

#2 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Right behind the Almanac fiction and next to the books on how to square the circle. (take a left at the table displaying books on the vast left Wing Conspiracy)

#3 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 11:45 AM:

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet, Teresa, but, well, what??

When I worked at Natural Wonders during the long, long years of retail management hell, I had a customer call and ask me if we carried any globes that were "smaller versions of the earth." I couldn't resist and answered that I was really sorry, but all of our globes were actual size.

We kept them in off-site storage.

#4 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 11:48 AM:

That's what I get for looking at the thread prior to looking at Particles. Not enough coffee indeed.

#5 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:02 PM:

I worked in bookstores in high school and college. My favorite query was, "I'm looking for a book, but I can't remember the author's name or the title. But it was blue, and it was on a bottom shelf."

Oh, yeah, that blue book on the bottom shelf! I'll ring it right up for you, sir.

#6 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:22 PM:

Hm. Does 1984 qualify as non-fiction now?

#7 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Wait. Wasn't In Cold Blood considered a non-fiction novel? Capote claimed it was. Lots more references here.

#8 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:29 PM:

Alex Cohen: When I was in library school, my advanced reference course ended with group presentations on a subtopic. When my group of about 5 people went to look at one of the books again, those of us who had diligently recorded the call number started scanning the general section in order. While we were still looking, the classmate who had instead written down "corner bookshelf, third shelf down, small blue book fourth from the left" went right to it. As we pointed out to her at the time, this works very well--until they shift the collection!

--Mary Aileen

#9 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:37 PM:

You'll find some in Authors under "Graves, Robert."

(Just don't confuse it with the later Burroughs-crossover-sequel, Me Claudius.)

#10 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Ahh, the bookstore.

I was just reminiscing this weekend. Some of my favorites:

From my time at the 82nd st B&N in NYC:

CUSTOMER: Where are your books on extraterrestrial insects?

ME: (after having tried diligently with a keyword search) Well sir, nothing comes up with those keywords, but if you don't mind browsing, I can show you where we keep our science fiction...

CUSTOMER: No! Not fiction! I want non-fiction books on extraterrestrial insects!

somewhat related, the annoyed customer who told me, "You know, you really have a lousy beekeeping section at this store!"

Sometimes there are just misunderstandings, like the customer I was leading to the religion section before he corrected me and told me he was looking for books on CHEESES, not JESUS. At least he was cool, laughed and said better I accidentally show someone books on Christ when they were looking for cheese than the other way around.

Much nicer than that little 11 year-old punk and his Ornithopter question...

The phone customer who took advantage of my helpful nature and expertise in the self help/sexuality department for about 5 minutes before I realized he was just trying to get me to talk dirty to him. (not for $6.50 an hour I don't.)

I'm sure there are ones from when I worked at Shakespeare & Co, but I can't remember them off hand.

In Wisconsin -

"I'm looking for something for my daughter's english class," reading off a crumpled piece of paper "I think it's called "Hamnet", and it's by Max Beth." (after much discussion, customer conceded I might be right, but she wasn't sure if her daughter needed Hamlet or Macbeth.)

But then, Shakespeare seems to be a common problem with some customers.

CUSTOMER: I need this book. It was a movie, and the book is by Michelle Pfeiffer. I think it's called 'Summer Dream'.

ME: Oh, you mean "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

CUSTOMER: Yes! That's it!

ME: That's a play by William Sh -

CUSTOMER: No! Not a play! It's a book! And Michelle Pfeiffer wrote it.

The guy who asked me (apparently) suggestively "Do you have any books on the Peloponnesian War?" After he had gone, several co-workers told me he was hitting on me! Damn! I totally would have gone out with a guy who asked that. Curse my denseness, I may have missed my soul-mate.

The guy who attempted to hit on me by suggestively asking for every "fat lady" magazine in existence and waggling his eyebrows. So obvious, even I got what he was doing. And ick.

#11 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Well, Michelle Pfeiffer did star in the 1999 movie. So that customer was confused (and insistent, which always blunts my sympathy a lot), but not totally out of left field.

#12 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:05 PM:

Answer.com has:
"A factual or historical narrative written in the form of a novel: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood is a nonfiction novel."

George Plimpton wrote
[New York Times, Book Review Section,
January 16, 1966]:

The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel
By GEORGE PLIMPTON
"In Cold Blood" is remarkable for its objectivity--nowhere, despite his involvement, does the author intrude. In the following interview, done a few weeks ago, Truman Capote presents his own views on the case, its principals, and in particular he discusses the new literary art form which he calls the nonfiction novel...

Why did you select this particular subject matter of murder; had you previously been interested in crime?

Not really, no. During the last years I've learned a good deal about crime, and the origins of the homicidal mentality. Still, it is a layman's knowledge and I don't pretend to anything deeper. The motivating factor in my choice of material--that is, choosing to write a true account of an actual murder case--was altogether literary. The decision was based on a theory I've harbored since I first began to write professionally, which is well over 20 years ago. It seemed to me that journalism, reportage, could be forced to yield a serious new art form: the "nonfiction novel," as I thought of it. Several admirable reporters--Rebecca West for one, and Joseph Mitchell and Lillian Ross--have shown the possibilities of narrative reportage; and Miss Ross, in her brilliant "Picture," achieved at least a nonfiction novella. Still, on the whole, journalism is the most underestimated, the least explored of literary mediums.

The New York Times
March 18, 2001
"The Real Nonfiction Novel"
By THOMAS MALLON
In her collection of essays, A. S. Byatt makes a case for historical fiction.
"... Byatt traces the trend -- discernible on this side of the Atlantic as well -- to several factors, including the novelist's desire 'to find historical paradigms for contemporary situations' ... The two-way street between fiction and history is, on Byatt's patrol, busier than ever. She notes that 'recent historians like Simon Schama have made deliberate and self-conscious attempts to restore narration to history' in books like 'Citizens,' and that, conversely, 'the idea that "all history is fiction" led to a new interest in fiction as history.' Uncertainties and mishaps abound, of course. Schama has been accused of emphasizing story at the expense of argument, and Byatt expresses doubt about Peter Ackroyd's life of Dickens, which seems to have anticipated Edmund Morris's 'Dutch' by a few years: 'The postmodern dialogues between biographer and subject . . . seemed trivial and false beside the mystery of the known facts and the unknown nature of the life being told.'"

"Still, Byatt believes that this is where the action is, 'that there is a new aesthetic energy to be gained from the borderlines of fact and the unknown.'"

Ummmm... as Science Fiction has always done?

#13 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:12 PM:

Xopher: Snap! I thought of In Cold Blood too. It certainly reads like a novel.

#14 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:18 PM:

You know, I forgot my favorite bookstore customer interaction story, which I swear is absolutely true.

Telephone: Ring, ring.

Me: Hello, [bookstore name]. Can I help you?

Little-old-lady-with-heavy-accent: I am lookink for ze book, How to Have Fantastic Sex.

Me (thinking): Yeah, right. Is this Bob?

Me (aloud): Uh, yeah, let me check. (Checks.) No, sorry, we don't have any copies on hand, but I can order one.

Maybe-Dr.Ruth-maybe-Bob: No thank you!

A few weeks later, the college newspaper ran a photo of Dr. Ruth, who was on campus visiting a relative who was going to school there.

So, I always say, when Dr. Ruth needs advice, she called me!

#15 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:22 PM:

Yeah, I was aware of the movie with Michelle Pfeiffer, and even tried to convince the customer gently and non-judgmentally that she was mistaken as to the source material, but she just got more and more angry.


Like the guy who wanted our non-fiction department. Being that anything beyond the first 12 rows of the store was non-fiction, I tried to get him to be more specific. Are you looking for auto repair? History? Gardening? He finally tired of my help and shouted "No! Just non-fiction!! Wal-Mart has a non-fiction section!!"

While he was not one of the two customers I may have mouthed off to in my 7 years in books, as soon as he got out the door, I did mutter to myself something like, "I bow to the superior bookseller that is Wal-Mart."

#16 ::: Joel Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:24 PM:

Hmmm.

I took a class in "Creative Nonfiction" once.

#17 ::: Carrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 01:39 PM:

From my bookselling days:

Customer came to the desk with an armload of "How to learn Spanish tapes." I prepared for her question, which in this situation was usually "which of these do you recommend?"
She started, "My family and I are going to Spain." I nodded encouragingly. She continued, "They speak Spanish there, don't they?"
I'm really not sure how long it took me to stop gaping at her like a fish before I said yes.

Then there was the woman with the screaming four-year old hanging off her arm who wanted to know if we had a copy of "Your Unruly Child."

One from a colleague, that actually turns the tables:
Our store was well known for its extensive computer books section. All the techies and programmers came to us. The clerk answered the phone. The caller's question was, "Do you have any books on unix?"
She, being rather new and not so computer savvy, dutifully typed "eunuchs" into the search engine. It's a case of the bookseller being possibly TOO literate.

The scary thing is, occassionally a customer would come in, wanting a copy of that book that someone talked about on the radio a couple months ago, the one with the blue cover, and I'd know what they were talking about and take them right to it. It's very impressive when you can swing it.

#18 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:02 PM:

Yeah, I've been a unix administrator for years...I have inadvertently startled non-techy people by saying "I work with unix," or "I'm in charge of our unix environment" etc etc.

That confusion is the subject of a classic User Friendly cartoon...

#19 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:03 PM:

Windex. With the monitor off.

#20 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:07 PM:

New yap!

I wow at the Mad Ape Den:
http://www.madapeden.com

I saw the URL a way ago. It is not as hip to spy the FAQ -- if you are a hot one and yen to try the new way of gab, no irk is it on its own. I say it is big fun to get a new jot for old jot. Now I am as mad as Ape!

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:07 PM:

That cartoon is hilarious.

#22 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:19 PM:

Your friend and mine Eleanor had, and maybe still has, a list of the titles people had asked for in bookstores. The two I really liked were:

Color Me Purple

The Autobiography of Malcolm the Tenth

Carrie: Actually, there are large parts of Spain in which people speak a lot more Basque, or Catalan, or Gallego, than they do [Castilian] Spanish.

#23 ::: Edd ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 02:53 PM:

My favorite,albeit depressing, bookstore query.

Middle-aged man walks in, wanders around, sighs a bit, then approaches the counter.

"Do you have any books on how to get divorced?"

"Yes," I say, heading for our Law section.

"My wife sent me to get one."

Oh, yes. It was the day after Christmas.

#24 ::: Connie ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 03:40 PM:

My beloved Somerville Public Library keeps an updated cheat sheet of books/authors reviewed on NPR and other radio talk programs just because they do get requests about "that guy who was talking about railroads last Thursday, he had a book with 'tracks' in the title' and so on.

#25 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 04:10 PM:

Actually, I've been the guy in the last panel of the Sob Story. Sort of. I've repeatedly taken Fallon Blood books from the SF section to the front desk for reshelving. That's *very* much not where they belong.

#26 ::: Bill Altreuter ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:03 PM:

I was reminded of the scene in The Big Sleep when Marlow is trying to figure out what the deal is with the phony bookstore. (It is a porno front, and a blackmail operation.) He asks for a "Ben Hur" 1850-- "with the errata on the 56th page." (I don't have it at hand-- that's not the exact quote.) In the movie the following exchange then occurs:

Philip Marlowe: You do sell books, hmm?
Agnes Lowzier: What do those look like, grapefruit?
Philip Marlowe: Well, from here they look like books.

Marlowe then goes across the street to a real bookstore, and the clerk there recognizes that "Ben Hur" is a contemporary novel.

#27 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:20 PM:

The Autobiography of Malcolm the Tenth

This reminds me of James VI and I, which can be parsed in two ways.

#28 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:28 PM:

Since this is an open thread: was anyone here at Ad-Astra this last weekend? My first con ever! Next time, I shall take a sharpie and write on my hand in big block letters:

ARE YOU TIRED? GO TO SLEEP! IDIOT.

And on the other hand, perhaps something about eating at regular intervals.

#29 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:31 PM:

When they turned Alan Bennett's play The Madness of King George III into a movie, the producers removed the III from the title. Apparently they worried that people would otherwise skip the movie because they hadn't seen The Madness of King George I and The Madness of King George II.

Fabulous movie, by the way.

#30 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:50 PM:

Sundre _ For me, it's not usually "Are you tired?", it's "Are you depressed, bitter, and sure that everyone secretly thinks you're the worst loser here, even worse than the guy who hasn't showered since 1997 or changed his clothes all weekend? GO TO SLEEP!!!!"

Of course, I *try* to go to sleep before that state hits, or at the first symptoms. I don't always figure it out in time. My most memorable crash, @ WFC Minneapolis also included an actual major gaffe, so i had a reason to feel a little embarrassed. In that state, I came inches from bursting into tears on a bunch of then-strangers. I got out in time, then realised what was going on. I woke up more ashamed I hadn't figured it out sooner than ashamed at the gaffe.

#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 05:51 PM:

"the producers removed the III from the title"

Alternative: subtitle which read "may be seen out of sequence."

#32 ::: Sylvia Sotomayor ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:00 PM:

More Bookstore anecdotes:

I once had a customer come in and tell me, "I was at that bookstore down the street [Crown], and I asked for Dr. Spock and they pointed me to the Star Trek section."

My favorite customer was one that everyone else disliked. This old woman with a walker would come into the store once a week about 10 minutes before closing [6pm] and spend about 20-30 minutes looking around and asking questions before purchasing something. Then one day, the old woman came in at 5:50, and I told her that she could take her time today as we were now open until 8pm. She grinned at me and said, "In that case, I'll be back at a quarter to 8." [She stayed, of course.]

#33 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:04 PM:

A memorable query:

"Do you have the Cliff Notes for The Adipose Trilogy?"

#34 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:22 PM:

Sundre: those skills come with practice. Also, remember to shower, brush your teeth, and change your clothes at least once per 48 hours.

(I mention this as a point of information merely because these skills tend to be forgotten by many fans during the first rush of cons to the head. Please excuse me if you are not one of them :)

#35 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Joel said: I took a class in "Creative Nonfiction" once.

I did too. The professor and I didn't get on at all. :)

#36 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:40 PM:

Connie - I think every bookstore and library should do just that. I don't know how many times I've wanted to check out a book I heard about on Fresh Air or some other show and couldn't conjure up enough info to find it. Then, at home with web access, I'd forget all about it. (Until, of course, I was next in the bookstore.)

#37 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:40 PM:

Sundre, sounds like you had fun! I think the general rule is something like: eat, sleep, wash -- at least two every day. I will fall asleep where I am when I'm tired, so that's no problem, but I'll forget to eat.

#38 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:41 PM:

Charlie: No, I think I had the basic hygiene stuff down, more through luck than foresight. Mostly I was disoriented because I found out that I was able to go at the last minute and had planned absolutely nothing.

I also kept forgetting to check my watch and missed a grand total of three greyhound buses on Sunday night, and ended up accepting a ride home from a generous soul. Perhaps it would have helped if the watch was not broken as well. I continue to learn.

#39 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:52 PM:

That would be:

Adipose Rex
A young man, wandering the roads, mistakes his father for a Stuckey's Pecan Praline, with tragic results.

Adipose and His Colonus
The aftershocks of the former king's eating disorder lead to drastic GI surgery, and a form of peace.

Antiketone
In the midst of a war over vanity poundage, one of two sisters refuses to abandon carbs for the sake of protocol.

Yes, I know, but just be glad I didn't decide to musicalize it.

CHORUS:
Though Teiresias came and kneed you
That old seer couldn't see you
Now you're fat and ruined
You were better dead than plump
We'll have film clips past the jump
Thebans, please stay tuned!

#40 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 06:56 PM:

I work in a medical Library. I'm not going to begin on the "the book I'm looking for is red" stories. There are times I really wish they wouldn't change the colour with each new edition.

Has anyone read Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go"? I'm looking at the book review of it in the 9th of April Lancet which states that "it does not attempt to be science fiction". Given that the rest of the review suggests the book is an alternate history in which we have already perfected cloning, I get the impression that it has nevertheless succeeded.

Possibly the reviewer can't believe it could be science fiction because he believes it deserves to win the Booker?

*is irritated*

#41 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 07:07 PM:

Mary Dell: User Friendly, for all its virtues, was late with the UNIX comment; cf the Dilbert ending "Tell the company nurse I said never mind." (You've also found me a new peeve; most crossovers tell you where to find the other strip, but I didn't find Sluggy Freelance for another couple of years....)

Andrew: Hollywood generally assumes low intelligence in moviegoers; e.g., presenting a movie titled Dangerous Liaisons.

#42 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 07:26 PM:

The customer who came in requesting the sequel to "Pilgrim's Progress" caused my co-workers and me no end of amusement as we tried to formulate possible titles. My favorite was "Return of the Pilgrim: The Revenge". We were considerably more grim when we discovered there was a "sequel" - the spiritual equivalent of fanfic, published by a modern fundie press.

This was not the same customer who asked for "Pilgrim's Progress" by Paul Bunyan. Which, while a common mistake, never ceases to be funny, if for no other reason than the image of Babe the Blue Ox in the middle of a Christian allegory.

It's been my experience that more often than not, there is probably someone in the bookstore who can find that book that was on the middle round table, top tier, three months ago. Ditto for books on Oprah, NPR, and of various colors. It's certainly worth asking. The bookseller who finds your "book with the blue cover that wasn't on Oprah, but that one guy who's on Oprah all the time has a blurb about it" doesn't need a tip, but will appreciate a "Thank You!"

#43 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 07:32 PM:

Synopsis of Adipose Rex:

Some twelve years before the action of the play begins, Adipose has been made King of Triglycerides in gratitude for his freeing the people from the pestilence brought on them by the presence of the riddling Sphinxter. Since Laiabout, the former king, had shortly before been killed, Adipose has been further honored by the hand of Queen Joulecasta.

Now another deadly pestilence is raging and the people have come to ask Adipose to rescue them as before. The King has anticipated their need, however. Freon, Joulecasta's brother, returns at the very moment from Kohlesterol's oracle with the announcement that all will be well if Laiabout's murderer be found and cast from the city.

In an effort to discover the murderer, Adipose sends for the blind seer, Tissues. Under protest the prophet names Adipose himself as the criminal. Adipose, outraged at the accusation, denounces it as a plot of Freon to gain the throne. Joulecasta appears just in time to avoid a battle between the two men. Seers, she assures Adipose, are not infallible. In proof, she cites the old prophecy that her son should kill his father, have children by his mother, and supersize the father's funeral feast. She prevented its fulfillment, she confesses, by abandoning their infant son under a pair of golden arches, high in the mountains. As for Laiabout, he had been killed by robbers years later at the junction of the three roads from Thorax, Lipid, and Abdomen on the route to Delphi.

#44 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:01 PM:

Patrick Connors writes: "I would jump up and down and say "First post!" but that's immature and brings back a bad CompuServe memory, so instead I'll just ask how to get Pepsi off a Dell LCD flat-panel monitor."

When I clean my LCDs, I use distilled water on a clean, soft white sock. In a pinch, I'd use filtered water (Brita, etc).

#45 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:04 PM:

The definition of the Ishiguro novel as sf-or-not is only -- or, perhaps more correctly, merely -- one more iteration in a long series of such definitions, by authors and others. (I am always reminded of Randall Garrett's definition, within is particular alternate history, of Black Magic's distinction from the non-Black sort as being "a matter of symbolism and intent.") It does seem to have rather more to do with the commercial consequences of such labeling (and that would certainly include Booker qualification) than content; Robin Cook, who had neither science or talent going for him, insisted that Coma, a novelacrum he admitted had been written, Lincoln's Doctor's Suburban Housewife's Dog fashion, to chase the Times list, was not science fiction, but "fiction science."

Maybe what we need, if indeed we need anything in this regard, is a criterion, called for the moment the Lucian, after either the guy from Samosata or the Keeper of the Pseudobiblia; a Lucian-positive work may be shelved in the room with the prominently finned rocket and the ringed planet if the librarian so chooses, if there is such a room, and if one chooses to define what said room has as shelves in the proper sense, while works classified as Lucian-negative are, of course . . . somewhere entirely else.

No, I don't want to be on the panel. I'll be down in the bar, drinking double Taliskers with Hypatia on the side.

#46 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:36 PM:

Alex: My family owns a used bookstore... we get queries like that all the time (minus the bottom shelf part).

No author, no title, vague ideas of when it was published, the genre and that's it.

Scarily we are often able to suss out the desired tome.

TK

#47 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:39 PM:

My memory of Coma, which I think I read once while babysitting, was that it was just a medical thriller. Nothing outside current technology. You could say it was a whatif kinda of a story, but it's really pushing it. Whereas this book posits a different reality where biotech advanced faster than nuclear tech in the post war period. That sure fits a lot of definitions of science fiction.

#48 ::: sGreer ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:49 PM:

What, a nonfiction novel like The Celestine Prophecy? That was a huge hit when I owned my bookstore. Despite my eye-rolling in private, I kept it stocked and it kept selling. Only I stocked it in fiction because, damn it, it's fiction--and at least once a week I'd find the copies had been surreptitiously moved to the nonfiction section by 'helpful' customers, some of whom even went to the trouble to make it a face-out.

Grrrrr.

#49 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:51 PM:

Not news that Tor is cooperating to make reading available to the deployed - but praise for Nielsen Hayden from Glenn Reynolds may be worth noting.

#50 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:51 PM:

One of my friends once confided to another, "I was hoping to have dinner and a really romantic evening planned out for [boyfriend]. Do you know where they keep that kind of books in this store?" Blushing, the second friend admitted that he and his girlfriend did, in fact, know where they kept "that kind" of books in that store and led her straight to the erotica and sex manual section. Whereupon she looked at the books and looked at him and said, "Cookbooks. I was looking for cookbooks."

I really doubt she's let him live it down by now. She's just that kind of friend.

Because my mind is running that way, I guess: when I was 14 or 15, I was alarmed to discover that the fantasy novel I had bought used was the other kind of fantasy than what I was looking for, despite the fact that it was called Merlin. I didn't know what to do with it -- I'm opposed to throwing away or otherwise destroying books even if I don't want them, and I didn't want to try to resell it to a used bookstore only to have them look more carefully at what exactly that is you have young lady and where did you get that and does your mother know you have it. And anything vaguely Arthurian on my shelves at the time got snapped up by my mom the minute I was done with it. I ended up returning it to the library in a pile of actual library books, on the theory that the librarians were unlikely to destroy books either and could deal with it as adults.

#51 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 08:59 PM:

The advice I've heard for dealing with cons is that you [i.e., the semi-typical North American con-goer] need a minimum of five hours of sleep and three meals a day, or three hours of sleep and five meals a day. (No, this does not mean you can sleep eight hours and fast, or eat every three hours and not sleep all weekend.) Note that neither alcohol nor caffeine, by itself, counts as a meal. Neither do M & Ms or Gummi bears.

#52 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 09:04 PM:

I just took a look at the "few words on Roger Elwood". As far as I can tell, it's a perfectly reasonable article, with no obvious errors (though I'm no expert on the subject)--it just feels slightly un-Wikipedia-ish, notably in the "this writer" usage, though the writer does adhere to Wikipedia custom by not actually signing zir work.

Wikipedia stubs are certainly getting longer.

#53 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 09:06 PM:

Replying to myself: Teresa, I'll defer to your expertise on Elwood. Is that a complete rewrite? And can you think of any reason I shouldn't remove the "stub" label from that article?

#54 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 11:08 PM:

I was alarmed to discover that the fantasy novel I had bought used was the other kind of fantasy than what I was looking for, despite the fact that it was called Merlin.

By Robert Nye? Or an actual nudge nudge say no more you also have to buy a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soulless and something by Ann Coulter to stick it between so people will understand what kind of person you really are book?

I would recommend Nye, but only to people whose taste I already understood.

#55 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:01 AM:

Those special retail moments. My favorite was when I worked in a record store. A woman comes in and asks, "I don't remember the name of the band I'm looking for..."
I interrupt her and say, "Here it is." I reach into the cd rack immediately to my right, pull out a cd and hand it to her. She looks at me amazed and asks me how I knew that Breeders cd was what she was looking for as a gift. I said I didn't know and walked away.

Either I have powers of mind control, I'm psychic, or most likely I am extremely lucky at the most unspectacular moments.

#56 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:05 AM:

On the camel story:
There's a very serious side note. A young Australian woman by the name of Schapelle Corby is currently on trial in Indonesia for drug smuggling, possibly facing a death sentence. She claims that someone else put the drugs in her baggage, and this story demonstrates the absolute plausibility of her claim. Here's a link to a recent news story.

#57 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:31 AM:

Open thread . . . completely left field:

We had a one-day strike at the University of California at Santa Cruz today (mostly to do with the University not negotiating in good faith with the support staff). I won't go into huge detail here because I wrote my impressions up at length already.

But -- the intersection at the main entrance was absolutely full of people. The nice fellow's been working there for thirty years and they've tried to get things going before, but this was huge.

#58 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 01:05 AM:

Along the lines of the "red book on the bottom shelf" question...

I buy at local non-chain (Hi, Dwayne!) bookstores whenever possible. However I was in a B&N "Superstore" two Christmases ago and they had a book on display which was the history of a mostly forgotten book on the sciences which was released under a psuedonym and which was so hugely popular that Charles Darwin is supposed to have delayed the release of "The Origin of Species" to make sure the new edition didn't force him into a rewrite. (I think that Gould mentioned it in passing in one of his essays.) I didn't see it at any other bookstore during the holidays, and when I went back to B&N the staff (of course) had no idea what I was talking about. Does anyone here know the name of the history of the book or the book itself?

#59 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 01:18 AM:

Nerdycellist, CS Lewis did in fact write a book titled The Pilgrim's Regress.

#60 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 01:38 AM:

Greg Horn:

Once I was hitchhiking through a state I'd rarely been in before. A driver stopped for me. I got in. For no reason that I could understand, a few minutes later, I said: "You're coming from your grandfather's funeral." He slammed on the brakes.

"How did you know THAT?"

"I don't know."

And I still don't. Episodes like these are very confusing for people raised as secular humanists and educated as scientists.

The last time a scientist talked seriously about this sort of event with me was last June at a Compexity Science conference. The gentleman was Brian Josephson, Nobel laureate in Physics. It is precisely his interest in such things that has led Cambridge University to deny him the right to be an advisor to doctoral students. Mustn't trouble the establishment with that stuff about, you know, consciousness, and that the universe might not work quite the way that our consensus agrees.

I've found that Science Fiction conventions are safe places to converse on such topics. And, thanks to our kind hostess, this blog.

#61 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 01:42 AM:

AKICIF - Best way to get a useful as published electronic text from a publisher for revision on home equipment and software? Previous efforts failed for both the 5th and this 6th revision.

(it's all deductible/expensed if there is some ideal hardware/software combination - I have used only Interleaf/Quicksilver for technical publication and Word for creation/editing/circulation for comments in recent years myself)

Given an obligation to revise the 6th edition of a text book (not my book, I'm just doing research and technical assistance -ISBN 0-13-048110-6) for Pearson/Merrill/Prentice (not exactly where it started out) so the students can be gouged again the publisher's people (names on request) are to furnish a useful electronic of the as published for rework - preferably on a G5 Mac -

I have no idea what they use internally. The CD received shows a number of individual chapters as extracted to Word 97 - but on a Windows/Word machine it sure looks to me as though the chapters are extracted from a markup in which tags are translated to styles only occasionally usefully and often flat wrong. Mac isn't any better. There are a few chapters and front matter in a folder as unable to extract to Word 97 (the failures are reasonably corrupt for any file format with which I am familiar but with enough ASCI to recognize the text - headers with lots of font information and so forth and so on.)

Is there any useful reference or suggestion beyond simply asking (again) the publisher - to give us the entire text - with whatever divisions - in Word (contemporary Windows or Mac) file(s) where the print, print preview and print layout view match the book as published?

Words Into Type didn't cover this for me. Does Words Into Print or anything else?

#62 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:52 AM:

Lucy: I know it's supposed to be a geode, but it looks like a glazed sour-cream donut to me.

Mmm. Donuts.

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 03:03 AM:


http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1345902.htm

"Three charged over Oil for Food programPRINT FRIENDLYEMAIL STORY

"AM - Friday, 15 April , 2005 08:26:00

"Reporter: John Shovelan

"TONY EASTLEY: The US Department of Justice investigating the scandal-plagued "Oil for Food" program today announced charges against three people, including a well-known Texas oil tycoon, David Chalmers..."

"The Department of Justice is one of several bodies in the US investigating the scandal, and today announced charges against a Texas oil tycoon, David Chalmers Jr.

"Chalmers is the owner of the Houston-based firm, Bayoil USA, and was arrested at his home this morning.

Prosecutor Joe Klochan alleged the three men indicted today were dealing with an enemy of the United States and could face up to 60 years in jail."

So why isn't Cheney arrested and in jail for the business that the company he ran did with Libya, Iran, and Iraq?!!

#64 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:11 AM:

Clark, they probably use one of the publishing tools in-house: PageMaker or what-have-you, or else some proprietary weirdie. If the book is a technical reference, FrameMaker, TeX, and troff are also possibilities. One of the problems you will find, if you try to work with the final marked-up and set version, is that it cannot be reliably converted to MS-Word format; Word can produce some remarkably poor markup. Are you trying to produce a marked-up book, or just alter the text and let the publisher reset it?

#65 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:47 AM:

... oh my God.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting the Particle on randomly-generated computer science papers. You made my week. ^_^

(With apologies for the interjection.)

Rebecca

#66 ::: Taelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 06:50 AM:

My Opera browser shows google text ads and the choice of ads gives me much amusement - this open thread page, for example, shows an ad for PublishAmerica. (and on some Guardian columns page the ad invited me to write thank-you letters to Blair for his support of US troops in Iraq)

#67 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 10:37 AM:

John M. Ford,
Where I work at Houghton College Division, a table has been set up to feature books that editors and other folks here bring in from home to 'sell' for proceeds that go to the United Way.

There, on the table this morning, I saw the Timescape hardcover first ed. of your book, The Dragon Waiting, which I abruptly snatched up.

Looking forward to it. :D


#68 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 10:45 AM:

CHip:
Andrew: Hollywood generally assumes low intelligence in moviegoers; e.g., presenting a movie titled Dangerous Liaisons.

Okay, perhaps this demonstrates my low intelligence, but what's wrong with that movie title? Wasn't that the title of the American translation of the novel, and of the play? If there's a joke or a mistake there, I'm afraid I don't get it.

#69 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 10:46 AM:

A link for the hard SF crowd (or anyone in need of a laugh): How to destroy the Earth.

"It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

"This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity.... This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore."

#70 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Steve: The French title is Les Liaisons dangereuses. How hard is that for literate English speakers to understand?

#71 ::: Mikael johansson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:07 AM:

Regarding the recurrent theme of SFA presses here, I can now proudly announce to have received my first offer to self finance publication of reviewed mathematical articles.

The solicitation begins
'Dear Professor Johansson,

Taking in mind your valuated achievements in mathematics, it is a pleasure for us to invite you to publish one work in "International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics".'

which is amusing in and of itself as I have not yet been even admitted to grad school, and goes on to tell me I can have my paper published in 5 weeks, for the bargain price of $10 a page.

#72 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Bruce E. Durocher II:
The book you're talking about might be Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by James Secord.

#73 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:20 AM:

By the time Roger Elwood was finished, you couldn’t have sold an SF anthology into the North American market if it were priced at ten cents and made out of Godiva chocolate is very nice.

#74 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:47 AM:

I worked in a B&N store for two and a half years and often got asked the blue book question. Oddly enough, half the time I knew what they wanted.

Most annoying were the requests for Oprah's Book of the month selections:

"What do you mean you don't have the new Oprah Book?!"

I'm sorry, mam, I was here in the store working when she told you what it was. Twenty minutes ago."

***

I remember one kid who handed me a list of books he had to choose from to do a report and asked me which was the shortest, easiest book that we had cliff's notes for. I handed him Moby Dick with a smile.

#75 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:13 PM:

Not to be too picky, but Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress already includes its own sequel -- the second part was published six years after the first (1684 as opposed to 1678).

#76 ::: Edo ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Clark,
If the files start with "IIXPR"—that's the letter I, not the numeral 1 at the beginning—or "MMXPR," they're QuarkXpress files. The former from the PC version, the latter Mac. Further details here, scroll down or search for "File Origin Code." I'm not sure what, if any, identifying headers the other publishing formats would have.

If they are indeed Quark files, you'll need to open them in Quark and export them for use in Word/rtf/choose your file format. InDesign is able to convert some Quark files. Adobe had a trial version available for download—probably long enough for you to export to your file format of choice if you want to avoid Quark. I'm a little rusty on my prepress formats as its been a few years since I escaped the trenches so there may be easier and/or more direct ways. Of course, this point is moot if they're not Quark files.

Note also that exporting text from a layout that was designed to suck in content rather than spit it out for revisions is often a royal pain in the behind.

#77 ::: Edo ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:30 PM:

Sorry to double post, but on third re-read, I realized that I wasn't completely clear about the "If the file start with…" part. By the start of the files, I mean the first characters in the file data, when opened in a text editor, as opposed to the file name. Follow the link for a more lucid explanation.

#78 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 12:42 PM:

TexAnne: If Hollywood only marketed to literate English speakers, they would lose bigtime. The people they do market to probably would think it was about lesbians. And even people who understand the title perfectly well might not be able to pronounce it with confidence, thus defeating word-of-mouth.

Also, there was another movie with the title in the original. And a dumbed-down teenified version called Cruel Intentions. And probably there's a porn version, I don't know.

#79 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 01:08 PM:

I knew about the CS Lewis "Pilgrim's Regress, but as for Bunyan's sequel - color me ignorant! The guy looking for the sequel wanted the depressing fundie version, which I believe involved simplified allegory.

As for movie titles, I'm kind of glad they americanized "Dangerous Liaisons." My french is abominable, and I sound like a total knob trying to pronounce french words.

#80 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Mr. Ford: I don't remember the author from this many years away. It featured a nun having a rather good time with a candlestick in the first 15 pages or so. I have a hard time thinking that would be particularly common with a given title, even one as broad as Merlin, so I offer it as possible identification. I have no idea whether the book had other features that would interest me now, but I was at the time a Nice Little Lutheran Girl, and when I got to the bit with the candlestick, I was done. At the time that was more nudge nudging than I was ready for.

#81 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:27 PM:

My favorite bookstore story happened not to me but to my husband. There was a book out a while ago called The Cry of the Kalahari. This woman comes into the store, goes up to him, and asks, "Do you have The Cry of the Calamari?" And while he stares at her, open-mouthed, she goes on, "You know, it's about the Calamari Desert." He shows her the book, goes back to his (quietly giggling) co-worker, and whispers, "No! Not with linguini!"

Then there's the guy who asked for the book with the red cover, about a submarine. We actually figured that one out -- it was Hunt for the Red October -- which had a gray cover.

#82 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:36 PM:

Mikael johansson:

The "International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics," with the bargain price of $10 a page, is surely Pure something. But not Shinola.

To anyone who thinks of submitting to it, in hopes of getting hired, promoted, or tenured sooner and thus receiving even indirect financial reward, I'd say: "Do the Math!"

#83 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:37 PM:

TexAnne:
Steve: The French title is Les Liaisons dangereuses. How hard is that for literate English speakers to understand?

It doesn't matter. Christopher Hampton's screenplay was based on his play, also called Dangerous Liaisons, and the novel's been printed in English under that title since time immemorial. 1960 at least, by my spot search. So if you're going to blame somebody for translating the title into English, don't blame Hollywood.

Anyway, I don't see how this insults anyone's intelligence. The movie was produced in English. Do you go into bookstores with masking tape to "correctly" retitle the translations of Le Comte de Monte Cristo and Les Trois Mousquetaires?

#84 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Xopher wrote:
Also, there was another movie with the title in the original. And a dumbed-down teenified version called Cruel Intentions. And probably there's a porn version, I don't know.

Hey, I rather liked Cruel Intentions. It did have some wit and nuance to it; and it was fun to see Sarah Michelle Gellar doing evil. >8->

#85 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Man, it is zeppelin time with a vengeance! There's All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, and Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow. We just saw a theater print of Hell's Angels, that movie H. Hughes is working on at the beginning of The Aviator -- GREAT stuff with a zep crew bombing London. And yesterday, picked up a copy of John Crowley's newly collected stories at the library -- nice old photo on the cover -- yup, there's a zeppelin. These are just the ones off the top of my head. Something in the water?

#86 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:54 PM:

CHip and TexAnne: in regard to Dangerous Liasons, why on Earth should an English-language movie have a French title? Sure, the original novel had a French title, but it also was in French.

#87 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 02:54 PM:

Kate Yule:

There's an old saying that, when it's steam engine time, multiple people invent steam engines. Jung claimed that we share a common subconsciousness or that ideas have a life of their own, that somehow there is connection and purpose in the world.

It's Zeppelin time. We have to live with it. No time for me to tell the story of how my grandather got poison ivy very badly while watching the Graf Zeppelin come to New Jersey...

#88 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 03:15 PM:

JVP:
It's Zeppelin time. We have to live with it. No time for me to tell the story of how my grandather got poison ivy very badly while watching the Graf Zeppelin come to New Jersey...

Someone in my writing/reading group also noted the preponderance of zeppelins in fiction right now. They seem to be in every alternate or reimagined history: The Years of Rice and Salt, The Eyre Affair... His theory was that they're a convenient, very plausible, and strikingly visual way of showing an alternate economy. My theory is that they're just romantic.

#89 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 03:39 PM:

Re: Particle:

That's not Bible slash. It might better be called theological slash.

I was expecting something more like David/Saul....

#90 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 03:43 PM:

And while we're at it: In what way does changing the name of the movie from "Madness of King George III" to "Madness of King George" demonstrate a belief in the low intelligence of American movie-going populace?

In fact, it's almost always true in America that movies whose titles end up in numbers are sequels, and a person shopping for a movie would be perfectly reasonable in assuming that a movie called "Madness of King George III" was a sequel to a sequel.

Also: I'm guessing that, for most Brits, the most well-known characteristic of King George III is that he went mad late in his reign. So a movie
named "Madness of King George III" would be a movie about an incident that's already reasonably well-known to Brits.

However, that is not George III's most well-known characteristic for Americans. Indeed, the movie doesn't even mention the events of George III's reign that Americans would consider most relevant. So, for Americans, the fact that the movie is about George III — as opposed to George I or George II or any possible follow-up Georges — isn't important enough to put in the title.

Harrumph. Wheeze. Rattling cough. Shake cane.

#91 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Metal Fatigue: I'm truly sorry about the doughnut image. It's the only geode I could find that I could work with. It's supposed to remind at least me of the H.G.Wells story "The Crystal Egg" which did something permanent to my head soon after I learned how to read and discovered the bookshelf in the living room had more in it than my father's old German nursery rhyme book.

Doughnuts are about the only thing-I-shouldn't-eat that I almost never have any trouble turning down. Even hot and fresh. Are you sure it doesn't remind you of a sliced bagel with too much cream cheese on it?

#92 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:00 PM:

Well, my favorite example of Hollywood's contempt is from Christopher Lee:

When Hammer's The Devil Rides Out (1967), based on Dennis Wheatley's novel of the same name, was scheduled for release in the US, the title was changed to the cheesy Devil's Bride...guess why.

Because the suits assumed all of us dumb yokels out there would stay away from the movie in droves, thinking it was a western, not a horror film.

#93 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:17 PM:

Hasn't Dangerous Liaisons floated around with both the French and English titles used? At least the title is the same in both languages, and is composed of two cognates.

On my "To Be Read" pile, in the "Struggle With a Language You Barely Know" subsection, I've got a couple of German translations of John Irving books, including Die wilde Geschichte vom Wassertrinker which is literally "The Wild Story of the Waterdrinker" but is a translation of The Water Method Man.

***

JVP - This is not the Zeppelinzeit, the current Zeit's Geist is all about the Spargelzeit! IHMO, the grandest Zeit of the year.

#94 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:19 PM:

"Madness of King George III" Dept.:

"V" by Thomas Pynchon, assuming you've read "IV" already.

History of the World: Part I (1981)
aka "Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part 1"

John Farrell:

"The Devil Rides Out" (1967), wasn't that the sequel to "Guns Across the Acheron?" Or am I thinking of that Johnny Depp pirate flick, "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" (1995)?

Then there was the producer who told Harlan Ellison about his idea to remake "The Wiz" -- White! Hey, I know -- how about reshooting "Dangerous Liasons" -- but in France!

#95 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:24 PM:

Whoops! Posted the wrong link for Spargelzeit.

#96 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:29 PM:

Indeed, the movie doesn't even mention the events of George III's reign that Americans would consider most relevant.

It doesn't? That's curious. The war is definitely mentioned in the play -- the King is still furious over it, and his early fulminations are a foreshadowing of more pathological behaviors to come. It's not a central point, but it's integrated. (I saw the original stage version, and never went to the film.)

As a side issue, the title of the play is "The Madness of George III," which would make it a weensy bit likelier to be confused with a sequel, probably about a hockey-masked Hanoverian chasing Emma Hamilton pell-mell around Pall Mall with a trenchant chainsaw.

Hmm. Put Hugh Laurie and Miranda Richardson in that and you might have something.

Mris: Yes, that would be the Nye book, and no, it doesn't ease up from there.

#97 ::: Xopher finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:38 PM:

Just there, before JMF's last post.

#98 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 04:49 PM:

I just started a new contracting job. Today, I picked up the key to my office, which I seem to be sharing with someone whose name ends with "Haydn Nelson." It's somewhat disorienting.

#99 ::: Aconite finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Yech

#100 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:03 PM:

Dept. for stupid unix tricks:
I made a tool for listing the posts referenced in the 400 Comments page.

First save the backthreads.html to a file. Then run this command from a terminal window:

grep '^on' backthreads.html |sed 's/.*0;\(.*\)&#.*/\1/' | sort -u

This trick should work on all unices, including OS X. Windows needs an add-on, such as Cygwin.

#101 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Mris: but I was at the time a Nice Little Lutheran Girl, and when I got to the bit with the candlestick, I was done.

Wow. I'm sorry for your younger self. I, on the other hand, was given a copy of The Valley of Horses (by someone who hadn't read the book and was under the mistaken impression that it was a nice story for a horse-mad kid) when I was about 12, and you could not have pried that book from my hands if you'd knocked me unconscious first, despite my disappointment in the paucity of horses.

#102 ::: nik ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:42 PM:

I enjoyed reading the entry on the Tolkien sarcasm term papers. A fellow knitter here, just dropped by to say hello.

#103 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Thanks for the heads-up. The offending spam has been taken out back and shot with oversized hollow-point rounds.

#104 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 05:53 PM:

Nonfiction book about extraterrestrial insects? Sounds like Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials.

#105 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 06:31 PM:

Oh hey, speaking of book searches...when I was very young, I had a book of SF illustrations, mostly spaceships. I can't remember the artist or the title, but I do know that one of the paintings from that book also wound up as the jacket of the hardcover edition of Melissa Scott's Dreamships.

(And why won't the comment box let me put in the <cite> tag? It's perfectly harmless.)

#106 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 06:52 PM:

Steve, Mary Dell, et al: the play, as presented in English in London and NYC, was titled [Les?] Liaisons Dangereuses. IMO, the movie (which was a direct consequence of the success of the play) should have had the same title; there was some comment at the time.

So we aren't allowed (per thread 13) to make comments about triple triskaidekaphobia. But are there no John Buchan or Alfred Hitchcock fans here to pun? I shall have to take steps....

#107 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 07:12 PM:

The really intriguing thing to me about the zeppelin scene in Hell's Angels was the degree to which it made the Germans sympathetic characters. Plus, it blowed up real good.

#108 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 07:14 PM:

Lisa Goldstein: Then there's the guy who asked for the book with the red cover, about a submarine. We actually figured that one out -- it was Hunt for the Red October -- which had a gray cover.

Well, yes. The wiring between our color words and color perceptions is weirder than it seems. I've seen a T-shirt that has the words

green
blue
red
yellow
orange
printed in bright red, orange, blue, red, and yellow (or some other permutation--I'm not sure it matters). The challenge is to say what colors the words are. Sounds easy, but it makes your mouth go funny. Not terribly relevant to your anecdote, but interesting?

#109 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 07:34 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

"Nonfiction book about extraterrestrial insects? Sounds like Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials."

Or maybe... "BEMs and Bugs: A Dummy's Guide to Debugging SETI Code on those Free Quantum PCs from our Alien Arachnid Overlords."

Dan Hoey and Lisa Goldstein:

That T-shirt thingie has been proven to slow cognitive processing in laboratory tests.

"the book with the red cover, about a submarine"
"We All Live in a Yellow Submarine", by Mao Tse Tung? Or maybe "Das Boot: The East German Edition?" Lady in Red; trouble ahead...

#110 ::: Mikael Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 08:07 PM:

JVP: It was painfully obvious that it was a vanity operation of some sort. What makes it slightly more aggravating is that it fuels things like the Elin Oxenhielm debacle; where the fact that a claimed peer-reviewed journal accepted the article gave the TA all the ammunition she needed to throw a sexism/ageism slur on the fact that her proof simply did not check out. If I can pay for peer-reviewed publication, without the actual peer-review working correctly, I personally fear for the potential of abuse among crackpots.

#111 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 08:13 PM:

Oh hey, speaking of book searches...when I was very young, I had a book of SF illustrations, mostly spaceships. I can't remember the artist or the title, but I do know that one of the paintings from that book also wound up as the jacket of the hardcover edition of Melissa Scott's Dreamships. (link added)

Heh. "I don't know the author or title.." But I do!

I had that book, too! Spacecraft, 2000 to 2100 AD: Terran Trade Authority handbook, by Stewart Cowley. It was built around a future history including a war with Proxima Centauri. Here's a web page about it and others in the series.. The illustrations from that book showed up as covers of SF books for years, and I think were created as covers first, then reused for the books.

A list of books that have used that art as covers, although it doesn't include Dreamships.

#112 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 08:19 PM:

Mikael Johansson:

Having been accused of crackpotism in my youth, and now relatively immune to such criticism by the number of peer-reviewed publications that I've amassed, I have a certain investment in the status quo. Having tuned Conservative, in that sense, I am innately suspicious of radical assults on the nature of peer review in Math publication. The MIT Random CS Paper thing is screamingly funny to me and my kin. One of my Full Professor coauthors has edited one such pseudopaper in with fragments of our papers and citations, and we plan on seeing if certain journals and conferences will fall for it...

I have adopted certain edited web sites (not vanity, but not strictly refereed either) as friendly to my agenda, such as the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences and Prime Curios and had over 400 of my mathematical notions accepted and online-published by these. But that did not help me keep my part-time Math professorship, nor yet get me one of the dozen or so full-time tenure-track ones for which I've applied.

Okay, got to get back to another coauthor, as we are nearly done with a paper for the (peer reviewed) (online) Journal of Integer Sequences.

Pay to be published? *shudder*
That's "doing a number" on too many people already.

#113 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 09:45 PM:

Vicki: for con advice, what I've usually heard is 5/2/1 (five hours sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower) --usually with a stern admonition that swapping the numbers does not work. OTOH, everybody has an opinion; I remember people leaving our party at Suncon to drive up to KSC to see a launch.

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 10:10 PM:

wrt the camel suit sidebar: at least he didn't try to wear it in the plane. When I was down under for Aussiecon II, a respectable-looking newspaper claimed to have uncovered an internal memo stating that a pole-vaulter's pole was not acceptable carry-on baggage, even if it would fit in the overhead bins. Can you imagine the Three Stooges - like episode that could have prompted such a decree?

#115 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 10:35 PM:

CHip:

"Spread out!" commands Moe, and he, Larry, and Curly, carrying a pole-vaulting pole, stagger from pillar to post...

#116 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:18 PM:

Steve Eley said: Someone in my writing/reading group also noted the preponderance of zeppelins in fiction right now. They seem to be in every alternate or reimagined history: The Years of Rice and Salt, The Eyre Affair... His theory was that they're a convenient, very plausible, and strikingly visual way of showing an alternate economy. My theory is that they're just romantic.

In a roleplaying game, I once played the Power of History. Eventually, we decided that zeppelins were a side effect of changing history. Didn't matter what you did, it caused zeppelins.

One of the other characters kept getting trapped on burning zeppelins for various reasons. Eventually it took its toll:
"I haven't seen you in three or four zeppelins--I mean days!"

#117 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 11:26 PM:

Scientific Conference Falls for Gibberish Prank
Fri Apr 15, 8:32 AM ET Oddly Enough - Reuters

By Greg Frost

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

Well, if the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics rescinds the acceptance of the paper, they can always expand it to a book, and have it "published" by PA.

#118 ::: Julian Black ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 07:07 AM:

Bookselling flashbacks--oh boy!

The "I don't know the title and I don't know the author, but it has a blue cover" queries were pretty much a daily occurrence. Thank goodness for keyword searches on Books in Print.

The woman who wanted "That book on relationships that shows a couple running along a beach hand-in-hand at sunset, and they are in silhoutte, and I think it was first published in 1976" was out of luck, though.

A well-dressed, middle-aged woman came into the store one day and asked me if we had any books of synonyms. I couldn't leave the counter, but pointed to the reference section in the back corner and told her that's where the thesauruses were. She looked at me, confused.
"What's a thesaurus?" she asked.
"It's a book of synonyms," I replied, shocked.
She seemed surprised. "I guess I've never heard it called that before."

Even before Oprah started her book club, we would get women in the store in the late afternoons, demanding a copy of whatever book she had been pushing on her show that day. Since we, as booksellers, had been working instead of watching Oprah, we had no idea which book was featured, and more often than not neither did the customer. Apparently, writing down titles and authors was a foreign concept. By some mysterious means, we were supposed to know what book had been featured that day.
In the first months of Oprah's book club, we had no idea what a given month's title would be until Oprah announced it on her show. Finally, the bookkeeper agreed to take on the onerous task of watching Oprah on the appointed days (on a 12" black-and-white TV that sat on the office floor), and reporting that month's selection to those of us working downstairs.
To this day, I can't bring myself to read anything Oprah recommends--though I did read The Corrections after that dust-up. Fortunately, I've already read all the classics she's recommended so far.

But my favorite--the one that still makes me shake my head in wonder:

[drumroll]

"When is Maus coming out as an audiobook?"

#119 ::: Mikael Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 07:26 AM:

JVP: Having worked on a major mathematical conference (4th European Congress of Mathematics) as responsible for the practicalities around the poster sessions; I'd say that getting papers accepted for display on conferences (as opposed to getting time for a talk on conferences) is in terms of peer review practically worthless. The poster submissions (i.e. the abstracts) were read by mathematicians to ascertain that no obvious idiocies and no completely incomprehensible gibberish appeared, but not much more than that.

#120 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 08:15 AM:

Wow. I'm sorry for your younger self. I, on the other hand, was given a copy of The Valley of Horses (by someone who hadn't read the book and was under the mistaken impression that it was a nice story for a horse-mad kid) when I was about 12, and you could not have pried that book from my hands if you'd knocked me unconscious first, despite my disappointment in the paucity of horses.

Aconite, I knew I had no interest in horses, so I just leafed through that one at 12, read the sex scenes, and was enthralled but skeptical. (To this day I have discovered no flowers about my person. Apparently overblown metaphor would be in the "turnoffs" list.) And I read the sex scenes in my mother's Mary Stewart Arthurians until I'm surprised the pages didn't have obvious smudgy finger marks. The Hollow Hills was good because it was right in the front and easy to find.

I recall it being frustrating at that age, because I wanted to know more, and the people who were giving me more detail were -- like Mr. Nye -- giving me details that were not actually useful to me in a state of total inexperience. I was pretty sure that I liked boys, not holy orders OR candlesticks. But the "door closed behind them" books were not very helpful, either. I also recall that it was a huge thing for me the first time I lent my mom a book with any sex in it at all, not because I thought she never read about sex, but because I was petrified she'd want to talk about it, and I just didn't have anything at all I wanted to say to her on the subject.

#121 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 09:20 AM:

When I was 13, my mom gave me a book entitled Girls and Sex and told me that if I had any questions, just ask her. I wouldn't, of course; I was horribly embarrassed that she would give me such a thing in the first place. But I did read it cover-to-cover with great concentration. [g]

--Mary Aileen

#122 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 11:04 AM:

CHip:

But I haven't read "The 38 Steps" yet...

Particle:

1969: MacFadden-Bartell (3x)
1970: MacFadden-Bartell
1971: ---
1972: Avon, Chilton, Fleming H. Revell, MacFadden-Bartell

Whoops! My father, Samuel Herbert Post, ran MacFadden-Bartell in those years. I wondered about the quality of those anthologies, but never realized that my dad had been caught in the Elwood fiasco. He talks about his acquaintance with Hugo Gernsback, but never of Roger Elwood. How about an award for Worst Anthology of the year: The Roger.

Mikael Johansson:

A good poster session at a good conference beats hollow a bad session at a bad conference. As to standards, at the 5th International Conference on Complex Systems, there was an odd submission by Nobel Laureate Brian Josephson. So they put it in the poster session. I had a poster session at one of the Artificial Life conferences, and quite enjoyed it. But, having polished the process to a fine sheen, I usually have more than one actual paper at any conference which I attend. My content isn't getting better; gaming the referees is.

#123 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 11:11 AM:

Having checked my email, please allow me to pass on to y'all:

Hi!,

There was a show I would watch Saturday mornings as a kid in the 70's. It was about the planet Earth after a nuclear war I believe. There was a group of people - scientists- who traveled around in an armored RV of sorts and they would try to re-educate the now ignorant survivors. I remeber the back of the RV opening up an a motorcylec would come out, and remeber the leader used a rocket belt at times to get around. I cant remember the name of the show. Could you help?

Tom

#124 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 11:19 AM:

Mris: your mention of flowers reminds me of how I felt about Lady Chatterly, at sixteen. Which is not as strongly as I felt about reading Wuthering Heights, at twelve, when I snickered myself silly and ran around the house calling "Heathcliffe!" melodramatically. It might have been better if my introduction to the book hadn't been the semaphore version from Monty Python. I still haven't finished it (the book, not the Python skit.)

#125 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 11:28 AM:

who traveled around in an armored RV of sorts

I watched that one, too. Ark II.

#126 ::: Mary Root ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 12:43 PM:

On the Zepplingeist: It appears to take about ten years for a meme introduced in a breakthrough book to become one that other authors feel safe playing with in their own created worlds. Checking my bookshelf, I discovered a truly terrifying fact - Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age was published ten years ago. This is where I first read a zepplin-filled alternate universe. So the kids who read this book in high school would know be in their late twenties - and writing!

A double-check on this theory would be Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, which came out in 1976, with the new addition to the vampire mythos that a new vampire is not created by the vampire's bite, but from the vampire allowing and/or forcing the human to drink their immortal blood. Near Dark came out in 1987, about 10 years later. After that the drinking of vampire's blood meme became standard in the genre, solving the "why isn't everyone a vampire, then?" question. There are probably other examples both for and against, but it does appear to be a pattern.

Les Liasons Dangerouses- one of my fave books. I would make a sarcastic comment about Hollywood re-naming it because they thought people might confuse it with the Jeanne Moreau/Roger Vadim version, but others have brought up the other versions.

There was a 2003 French TV miniseries starring Catherine Deneuve, Nastassja Kinski, and Rupert Everett, set in Paris in the 60s. I missed the US verion, but now I see that Amazon has the 270 minute cut in French with English subtitles. A Korean version set in the same time period as the original (but featuring Korean court intrigue) is coming out on DVD in July. It is supposed to be superb.

Does anyone know if there is an English translation of the French original which is better than the others? I read it every few years, and end up giving away my copy. Time to read it again!

#127 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 01:17 PM:

Vassilissa -

When I was in college, I spent a semester in London. During a weekend outing to Wales, some friends and I were climbing a hill. Sean sped on ahead while Lisa and I lagged behind as the weather turned and the fog rolled in. After a little bit, we heard a booming voice from above yelling, "CATHYYYYY!!" and could barely see Sean through the fog, waving from the top of the hill. Lisa and I just about couldn't make the final climb to the top because we were weak from laughter and our dramatic responses of "OH, HEATHCLIFF!!"

#128 ::: Senseless ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 01:32 PM:

It was Ten Oclock last night when I first read this.

I didn't know then, and I still don't know now.

Perhaps I should check the attic!

#129 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 01:44 PM:

Alex Cohen:

Thank you. I emailed that link to the questioner. A chimp named "Adam?" Don't let the antievolutionists know...

Another Sick Story on Publishing Ethics Dept.:

Researcher Sheds Light On Ghostwriting In Medical Journals

“The pharmaceutical industry relies on ghost-written publications in peer-reviewed journals as part of their marketing plans,” said Fugh-Berman. “Physicians rely on information in the medical literature to make treatment decisions, so hidden sponsorship of articles—and lectures at medical conferences—is not only unethical, but can compromise patient care.”

#130 ::: Andy Perrin Suspects Spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 03:11 PM:

Check out "Senseless" a couple of comments up.

#131 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 03:44 PM:

Mary Root wrote: 1976. . . new addition . . . new vampire . . .allowing and/or forcing the human to drink their immortal blood.

“With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some to the . . . Oh, my God! My God! What have I done?"

-- Dracula, Bram Stoker, Chapter 21. 1897.

#132 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 04:06 PM:

Alex Cohen: Thanks! That's it! I recognized the title as soon as I saw it. I guess it was still present in associational memory, but had fallen out of the index. Or something like that. Oh, and thanks for reminding me of Ark II as well.

Tiger Spot: Was Ken Hite involved in that game, or did he arrive at that notion independently?

#133 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 04:10 PM:

(sorry for posting two comments in a row)

Stephan: Oh, good. It would have broken my heart to learn that Anne Rice had come up with something original.

#134 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 04:14 PM:

The dumb questions are all over retail. My sister manages a Williams-Sonoma in Southern Calif., and regularly regales me with the questions of clueless customers.


"How long will this salt keep?"
"Do you carry a salsa maker?" [Her response: "We call them knives."]
"Are eggs and butter included?" [referring to bags of *dry* cake mix.]

#135 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 05:32 PM:

thanks for reminding me of Ark II as well

That page brought back a ton of memories. Dr. Shrinker. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. Bigfoot and Wildboy. The Krofft Supershow. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. Far Out Space Nuts. H.R. Pufnstuf. Space Academy! Jason of Star Command! Land of the Lost, with episodes written by Larry Niven. And, stains and angles preserve us, Monster Squad, starring future U.S. Representative Fred Grandy as "Walt."

Walt was a college student majoring in criminology. To help pay for college, he took a night job working in a wax museum after hours. While tinkering with his crime computer one night, he managed to bring the wax statues of Dracula, the Wolfman and the Frankenstein monster to life. The monsters used their unique skills to help Walt solve crimes and mysteries.

#136 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 08:00 PM:

Alex C, what if Franklin P Dixon or John Blaine had thought of that? Imagine the Hardy Boys or Rick Brant with monster statues!

#137 ::: David D. Levine ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Well, if the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics rescinds the acceptance of the paper, they can always expand it to a book, and have it "published" by PA.

If it's the WMSCI, they really had it coming. They've been spamming me for quite a while -- at one point I was receiving an email from them every couple of weeks, all addressed to "Dr. D. Levine" and telling me that "We are emphasizing the area of Virtual Engineering, mainly Agent Technologies which are related to your specific area." I wrote them last year asking them to take me off their list but the spams keep coming.

#138 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 09:06 PM:

Oh, I'm sure Rice came with all sorts of original stuff-- just not that. Nor, I'm sure, was it original with Stoker-- "vampire" stories arguably date back at least as far as the Ancient Greeks, what with the whole blood-drinking ghost thing. Hence the massive radiation of variations-- the idea's been around a LONG time, and has mutated from culture to culture. Even the question of whether or not vampires can walk around in open sunlight varies from tale to tale. (Stoker's Dracula did, for example-- and was eventually killed with a metal knife. This, after shrugging off a shovel blow to the skull... but Dracula isn't exactly a well-edited tale. Which led directly to Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape, which retells the story of Dracula so that it makes sense. [Saberhagen does a good enough job that it's hard for me to reread Stoker without saying to myself, "Of course, what's really happening in this scene is..."])

#139 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 09:19 PM:

Imagine the Hardy Boys or Rick Brant with monster statues!

"Gosh, Frank, who would have suspected that kindly old Mr. Dzugashvili was secretly running the International Commie Conspiracy out of the church basement!"

"Well, yeah, Joe, but it's too bad Frankie ripped his head off."

"Jinkies, it's good that Drac and Wolfy are hungry all the time."

"Joe, if you ever say 'jinkies' again, I'm gonna send the photographs to the newspaper."

"Having a detective for a brother sure sucks."

#140 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2005, 11:03 PM:

Aunt Gertrude was removing the fifth lemon meringue pie from the oven when Chet walked in.

"Gee, Miss Hardy, you must be the best cook in the whole world!" said the Wolfman.

Chet stared in astonishment. The monster was eating his pie!

#141 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 12:22 AM:

Mention of Robert Nye's Merlin reminds me that it's on the list of books I read as a teenager that I'd like to read again to see if my impression has changed over the last twenty years. :-) Sadly there appears to be only one copy at amazon.co.uk, and I don't want it badly enough to pay 45 quid for it. On the other hand, it appears that Faust was reissued recently and is still in print. Think I might add it to my shopping list...

#142 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 12:26 AM:

Stephan: Stoker's vampires were comparitively new on the scene -- there were things like Varney ( a fairly complicated google search with lots of modifiers does not reveal when the Nosferatu thing was written -- I can't seem to get any earlier than the silent film no matter what I include or exclude), but the core of the vampire story was different before his time -- at least in the folk tale repository.

In the folk tale repository vampires are things, stuff rather like disease, and have effects rather like disease. And they are appalling and stink and if they look like a person (which they often don't) they look like the corpse of a relative or something. They're not about elegant aristocrats presenting sexual danger to the innocent and the conflicted: they're about death. Different things about death -- sometimes it's overgrieving for the dead, sometimes it's underritualizing for the dead. Sometimes it's just the same story as the hungry dead.

The dissolves-into-dust-at-dawn was sort of around but kind of rare until movies made it common, I think for technical reasons: because it was a special effect that could be made effectively quite early on in the development of the medium. The incapacitated by day is common but not mandatory in folk tales.

All this brings me to the blood baptism (or whatever it's actually called when people talk about it, I've never known) -- I'm sure that someone can contradict me, but I've never seen anything like it in vampire folk tales. I think it's kind of reminiscent of bad-witches folk tales or evil aristocrats folk tales, and I am willing to say that I think if Stoker lifted it from somewhere he lifted it from one of those.

Okay, now a question: how come Stoker could write such an excellent piece (Dracula) and then write such dreck as Lair of the White Worm? -- and did he write anything else good?

#143 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 12:39 AM:

I've got Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress sequel in my tbr pile, but reading the first one took a lot out of me. I'm figuring the second must be more action-packed, though, as it's about Christian's wife and their 4 sons making their way to the Heavenly City, and speaking from experience, a trip to the corner store with one kid is an adventure, so getting through the Slough of Despond and the Valley of the Shadow with four must be pretty darned epic.
I'll throw in a mention of Enid Blyton's retelling-for-children - The Land of Far-Beyond, wherein three children make the trek to the Heavenly City. I keep wanting to retitle it in a more Blytonish fashion, along the lines of Off With the Adventurous Four Again, or Secret Seven on the Trail.

I had a similar experience to the Valley of the Horses mixup in my early teens, taking out Flight From the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch, under the impression that it was a fantasy novel. Damn library bindings.

When I was reading up on vampires a while back, I kept drawing blanks on the supposedly wide-spread vampire myth. There were live nasties that ate dead people, there were dead nasties that sat on one's chest and smothered, there were occasional supernatural nasties that used blood to dye their hats red, etc., but dead people coming back and sucking the blood of the living were vanishingly rare. The Walter of Newburgh stories were about the closest, and I think one of them was a demon rather than a walking corpse.
Of course, this was all in curiosity as to what a vampire would have been called before 1730 in the English-speaking world.
Here's a question - has anyone ever found links between the idea of vampires drinking blood and the Western (esp. English) belief about witches feeding their familiars with blood?
"Thou art a soldier, follow'st the great duke, feed'st his victories, as witches do their serviceable spirits, even with thy prodigal blood." (Webster, The White Devil)

#144 ::: Metal Fatigue ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 01:47 AM:

The bacon Particle lacks an initial "h".

#145 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 03:56 AM:

In re: "the core of the vampire story": folk tales aren't usually a monolithic thing that you can point to and identify as even having a core-- there's often a counterexample somewhere in the folklore archives. Sometimes you can generalize about tales from a specific region and time, but so broad a concept as "vampire" is resistant to this. (I'm sure y'all have seen the lists of how to kill a vampire as a function of where the vampire's from. If not, one version appeared in
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_039.html .)

Anyway, Vlad Tepes himself was accused of being a vampire while he was still alive, as was Elisabeth Bathory-- both aristocrats, both hundreds of years before Stoker. And inasmuch as Dracula can be said to have a primary source, the tales about Tepes are it.

Whether the tales themselves sexualized Tepes at all, I don't know-- I don't even speak Romanian, so even if I had a folklore archive right in front of me, I couldn't check. Regardless, Stoker wasn't even the first to sexualize and aristocraticize the vampire in English literature-- for instance, Polidori's The Vampyre was published in 1819.

#146 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 09:01 AM:

JvP: How about an award for Worst Anthology of the year: The Roger.

Of course! Especially given the meaning of "roger (v.t.)"

#147 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 11:15 AM:

Alex: I only watched Ark II because it was on right after Space Academy. I liked the one about Isis even better, though. I was miffed when they started explaining the morals after every episode (what, they thought we wouldn't notice them otherwise?). Then they combined Isis and Capt. Marvel, and then Isis vanished away. Ah, the things that made me a feminist...

Further ruminations on Les Liaisons dangereuses: all of the movies I've seen are OK, but none comes up to the original. I think my favorite is Valmont, simply because they get the dancing right. (And, well, Colin Firth...)

#148 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 12:14 PM:

Metal Fatigue: God and the devil are shown having an encounter in the book of Job that is more or less a verbal pissing contest; I don't think it's stretching things too much to say the Particle slash is of a kindred spirit.

#149 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 12:32 PM:

John M. Ford, I've seen the film but not the play. I recall Alan Bennett writing (in a very mild-mannered way) about the changes between the play and the movie, but as these things go, it's my impression he got off lightly, mostly trimming the play down a bit to fit a reasonable movie length.

Anyhow, George does mention the loss of the colonies in the movie. I don't recall the exact lines, but it's fairly early in the film, and he's quite bitter about the whole thing.

BTW, surely you guys have been living through the prequel, "The Madness of George II", since November 2000?

#150 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 01:03 PM:

Anyone need a Wonderous Vulva Puppet?

"I've had your puppet for years now, my clients love her-her name is Marigold and she is a role model and a delightful addition..

via Bark Like a Fish, Damnit!

#151 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 01:36 PM:

Metal Fatigue: I do not know Ken Hite, so if he had the same idea it must have been independent. Doesn't seem like a terribly original idea, once one has seen enough alternate-history-with-zeppelins-in-it. Correlation may not equal causation, but it's a good first guess!

#152 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 01:53 PM:

While my husband and I were watching (giggling our way through) the first "Star Wars" movie last night, its elements of old Hollywood "noir" -- tough guy, tougher broad -- made me think of how it could have been cast with late '30s/'40s stars. Bogart as Han Solo, Hepburn as a Princess who could maintain her posh accent in times of stress, maybe Frederic March as Obi Wan Kenobi, Basil Rathbone in the Peter Cushing role.... I think I've heard that C3P0 and Chewbacca were already influenced by the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, so those could take back their parts. Anyone else willing to join in this silly game?

#153 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 04:09 PM:

Tom Weller's wonderfully silly CVLTVRE MADE STUPID included a mock playbill from a turn-of-the-century nickelodeon. In addition to ordinary fare (e.g., "A naughty child steps on a water-hose, causing the gardener to look in the orifice, resulting in a face full of water to great comic effect") were stilted Victorian descriptions of Flash Dance and Star Wars ("Concerning a battle of airship-pilots battling a great ther fortress. Includes many droll clockwork machine-men.")

#154 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 04:22 PM:

Discussion of "Isis" reminds me of the 70s TV show "Wonder Woman." Check out who played Wonder Girl.

More about Isis.

So wrong, and yet.

#155 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 04:25 PM:

Honk honk beep.
"Hey, dat's-a good one, Threepy. Wait, there's-a what on the detention level?"
"Look, we're trying to save the honor of the Republic, which is more than the Republicans ever did. Why, hel-lo, Darth Gottlieb! You know, I hope this armor of yours is a rental, because it doesn't fit. Are you evil? Is there a quick way off your asteroid? Answer the second question first."

#156 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 07:43 PM:

Is anyone else now trying very hard NOT to picture Margaret Dumont with cinnamon-bun hair?

In the I Am Not Making This Up department, the Muppets do Wizard of Oz.

I wish we had more issues of Bento on line; I could point gleefully to #11's cast list for the Muppet J. C. Superstar.

#157 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 07:58 PM:

Is there a search engine which will accept an input such as:

"Ghandi Meets Hitler" and return a title ?

Thanx in advance, E D Maner

#158 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 08:15 PM:

Is there a search engine which will accept an input such as:

"Ghandi Meets Hitler" and return a title ?

You mean, a search engine smart enough to realize you meant Gandhi?

#159 ::: obeah ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 08:54 PM:

The New England School of Law has about 2000 of its books indexed by color.

#160 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 09:49 PM:

Cringe-inducing bookstore-query horror story:

This took place in a B. Dalton mall-storefront store, about twenty years ago.

A place or two ahead of me in the check-out line was a young lady who had been dealt an unfair hand by genetics or gestation. Terribly skinny, undersized, wearing goggle-glasses and walking with the aid of leg braces and canes. Her dowdy clothing suggested a wardrobe selected by a none-too-clueful mom. She asked the clerk something, quietly and apparently indistinctly, because the clerk had to ask her to repeat the question. Finally the teller shouted, in the direction of the information desk halfway to the back of the store:

(For maximum accuracy, imagine this brayed in a thick stunada Long Island accent)

"HEY SHELLY! WHERE DO THEY KEEP THE BOOKS ON RAISING YOUR SELF-ESTEEM?"

There was no malice here, just sheer dumb-fuck ignorant insensitivity.

If I could send a telepathic message back in time, I'd be split on telling the customer not to pay attention to jackasses or telling the clerk what a boob she is.

#161 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 10:28 PM:

"You mean the kind you push in with your thumb or the kind you gotta use a hammer on?"

#162 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2005, 10:49 PM:

The best book on vampires, ever, is Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial and Death: folklore and reality, published Yale UP 1988.
Do not read while eating dinner.

#163 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 06:03 AM:

JvP: The Hitler-and-Gandhi story is probably Harry Turtledove's the Last Article. I seem to remember having seen less than shining comments on it on soc.history.what-if, mind.

#164 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 10:08 AM:

Speaking of the Wonderous Vulva Puppet (as one does), and the Muppets do the Wizard of Oz, here's the Uterine City of Os.

#166 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 05:08 PM:

The new Pearson/Prentice Hall textbook titled COOL CIRCUITS (Marc E. Herniter, ISBN 0-13-119343-0) has, by my brother's permission (he's Director of Corporate Communications at Vishay International), a Vishay datasheet, and some interesting analog circuit designs: birthday candle blower, infrared bug sucker, Klingon pain stick, etc. Seriously!

Don't ever tell a Klingon that he/she is NOT serious.

#167 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 06:22 PM:

Sorry to post twice in a day on the same thread, but I so VERY much want to believe this:

Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world

Scientists begin to unlock the secrets of papyrus scraps bearing long-lost words by the literary giants of Greece and Rome
By David Keys and Nicholas Pyke
The Independent
Onlin Edition
17 April 2005

"For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible."

"Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed."

"In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament...."

#168 ::: Carter Nipper ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 06:23 PM:

A reverse-angle on customer questions:

Many, many years ago, I worked in a small public library. "Pot-boiler" romances were really biug at the time (the ones that Fabio used to model for). It so happened that a new book was published by a high-demand author. As we worked our way down the Reserve list for that title, my co-worker found himself on the phone with the cream of local society ladies telling them: We have "A Savage Kiss" for you...

#169 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 08:14 PM:

Just in the mail:

"eBay invite you to join us a PowerSeller." [sic, sic, sic]

Accompanied, of course, by an invitation to enter username and password.

Well, it's a change from having my account cancelled thirty-five times a day. I wonder sometimes how many times a day people who actually have eBay accounts in the first place have
them cancelled.

#170 ::: bill blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 09:37 PM:

JVP mentioned:
The new Pearson/Prentice Hall textbook titled COOL CIRCUITS

This book was the subject of a lot of laughter today at work...

has, by my brother's permission (he's Director of Corporate Communications at Vishay International),

I despise Vishay datasheets.

Personal preference? Maybe.

If I'm trying to lay out a circuit that's going to have certain characteristics over a broad temperature range, I want something with graphs of Typical Device Characteristics (Fairchild Semi 2N4401 Datasheet, PDF)...

Sure, the 2N4401 from Vishay (PDF Datasheet link) is nominally the same component--- but on the wall in my former workspace, I had a bunch of datasheets from Fairchild Semi-- free advertising, essentially, considering a bunch of my coworkers were responsible for specifying purchase decisions for Mass Quantities of Various Electronic Components.


#171 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 09:41 PM:

Well, it's no "Star Wars," but the comment reminded me of the Warner Brothers version of Lord of the Rings, anyway.

For my money (I know this isn't 100% congruent with the topic I'm responding to), the best version of the Star Wars movies was Thumb Wars. Consider Princess Bunhead's line when she shows up. First time the heroes have ever seen her. "I escaped somehow. Let's go," she says. Damn, That's MOVIE-MAKING. (Sorry, frog in the thoat.)

#172 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 09:42 PM:

Oh yeah, the pig bomb. I was expecting something out of Invader Zim. Those look like very tasty little candied bacon pieces.

When I was first seeing Cathy, I went over to her place and she was making an appetizer dish of shrimps wrapped in bacon and sauteed in a brown sugar solution. Yummers. They were great with water chestnuts too.

#173 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 10:17 PM:

I didn't think Dangerous Liasons could ever be filmed.

I mean, I'm not surprised it was a best-seller--Harlan Ellison is a great editor--but how could they turn those stories his exes told about him into a movie?

#174 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 10:58 PM:

Liaisons is a pain of a word to spell corectly.

#175 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 11:00 PM:

Correctly, on the other hand, is generally no problem at all.

#176 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 01:35 AM:

Just read the news on trufen.net that Bill Bowers died last night.

#177 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 04:22 AM:

JvP: right with you on the Oxyrhynchus collection.
It's great to finally be able to read documents so long thought lost.

#178 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 10:28 AM:

As someone who majored in classical studies, I'm really glad other people are hearing about the Oxyrhynchus papyri. However, these fragments aren't exactly breaking news--they were found over a hundred years ago, nearly 70 volumes of deciphered/identified fragments have been published so far, and as a new technology for deciphering/interpreting them has come along, it's been applied enthusiastically. Neat, cool, and wonderful things have been found, but I think "Holy Grail" sounds like press-release hyperbole.

I suspect the main reasons for this news release are that the project grant from the British government is due to expire this year, and they need something cool to report to be sure it's renewed, plus the group they're going to be working with is from Brigham Young University, and they hope that members of the LDS world-wide will think it's worth throwing some cash at this.
Research always moves faster with more money.

The official Oxyrhynchus papyri site is here: http://www.papyrology.ox.ac.uk/
Among other things, you can join the Egypt Exploration Society, order copies of the published fragments*, see pictures of some of the fragments [this will give you a good idea of how difficult the identification and decipherment is], browse some articles, and generally get classical, or [to be pedantic] Hellenistic.

*Fragments identified to date include part of Sophocles' Ichneutae, part of Euripides' Hypsipyle, many of Menander's plays, and the oldest and most complete set of diagrams from Euclid's Elements. However, much of the stuff found consists of items cleared out from the Ptolemaic and Roman governments' files--tax records, legal documents, reports, and so on. There are also a fair number of personal letters and papers in the mix. Not having shredders, the local bureaucrats would go through their files every few years, and take a load or two to the dump outside of town, thus starting the papyrus mine Hunt & Grenfell found when they began digging in the 1890s. The literary remains are the lesser part--this settlement wasn't a major center of scholarship, like Alexandria. Most of these probably are school materials or personal books that became too battered to be worth repairing, and were ditched for cleaner copies.

#179 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 11:13 AM:

I see that the Particulate "Frazzled Editor" reached right through a misspelling.

#180 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 11:27 AM:

Correctly, on the other hand, is generally no problem at all.

Now see, I thought you'd done that on purpose.

#181 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 12:16 PM:

White smoke puffs upward
Line with seven syllables
It is a new pope!

#182 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 12:38 PM:

I'd like to point out that today is Odstreth.

#183 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 12:39 PM:

Stefan, if it's Cardinal Rat, I suggest

The day lives in infamy:
as your middle line.

#184 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Someone must have put in a good word for Benedict XVI - at least we can put paid to the George Ringo jokes.

Well, we shall see: Man proposes; God disposes. The rain has started here in Sydney, and I am well overdue for bed.
Benedicte

#185 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 12:59 PM:

This day lives in infamy, indeed, Xopher. My guess is that Teresa's popish platform [I don't know how to link to something from a previous thread, sorry] won't be implemented any time soon.

Meet the new boss...

#186 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 01:04 PM:

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

#187 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Hey, look on the bright side--he's 78 years old.

#188 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 02:16 PM:

Kimberly - What was Teresa's Popish platform? I'd be very interested in reading that.

You can get the URL of any comment by going up to the date the comment was posting, right-clicking on the date and then doing whatever your browser of choice has you do to save the URL to your clipboard. Then paste it in your new post.

For instance, the URL of the post previous to this one (as I type this), from adamsj is, http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006248.html#79681. I got that by clicking on the date/time: April 19, 2005, 02:08 PM, and saving it to the clipboard.

If you don't have time and can even give me some clues to where the comment is, I'd be grateful. (Or I could search on "TNH" and "Pope" — hmmmm)

I'm very interested in this subject, not because I'm a Catholic, which I'm not, but because the Pope, like the President of the U.S., and heads of Russia and China, influences the whole world. And because I think that there's a lot of good that an honest, hard-working, smart man can do as Pope, even if he (like JPII) implements some beliefs that I consider reprehensible.

In particular, I wonder how much of the current corruption of the Church, with regard to the child abuse coverups, could be mitigated by a firm hand on the steering wheel. And surely even political conservatives (like John Ratzinger) think child abusers should be punished.

#189 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 02:33 PM:

A fair bit ago (which means that ditzy me can't remember when), I posted a comment to a thread asking what people would do if they were the pope, and Teresa posted an answer.

I'll try to find it after work and follow your instructions to link it here, if you don't find it first...

I seem to recall that the whole infallibility thing would be gone. And celibacy? I'm sure our wonderful hostess will chime in if I've got that wrong.

See, I used to be Catholic. I just posted that on the thread about the new pope. And I agree with you about the influence of the Vatican. I'm a bit freaked out, frankly, at how concerned I am by this, as I didn't really think I would be. The last time we had a new pope, I was Catholic. But I was too young to understand that who's running the Vatican matters to the world, not just to Catholics, and only noted my grandmother's glee at the Pope's Polish-ness.

Now, I get it. I'm not optimistic, not today, but I guess we'll see.

#190 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Okay, let's see if this works.

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006047.html#75229

Well, I think that's where it is. But how do I make it all link-y? Eh, I know I've skimmed instructions on that somewhere hereabouts and I'll find it.

#191 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 06:18 PM:

LAST long post of the evening, I swear (as I'm off to puppy's hockey game and won't be tempted to wax on and on and on)

To anyone who's even a bit interested, here is the post I referred to just now on the pope thread.

David, yes I see your point--and I will probably get a livejournal account tonight and we can talk about it more. And I am a very, very lapsed Catholic. In fact, I'm a pagan.

Here's one thing, though--I don't think my basis for distinction on my beliefs about GOD have any business being the basis for what society says about anything. And that's where I'm equal opportunity--I don't want the arch-conservatives getting to base social policy in this country on what they believe about God, either. I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, precisely because matters of faith can seem so arbitrary to those who don't share them.

So gay rights in the state, to me, can, should and in fact must have a different basis than gay rights in a church. I have a fundamental religious belief that gayness is NOT morally wrong in the eyes of my god(s). That's not, however, the basis for my also very strong belief that the govt should cough up the gay civil rights immediately. That's based on my views on bodily integrity, privacy, our Constitution, and the rights of consenting adults to, well, consent. And that's precisely what I think my, erm, "straight" civil rights are based on. Now pedophilia, on the other hand, well, I think we can all see how the practice of pedophilia violates a child's civil rights, and thus provides not only a state interest but a compelling state interest in regulating not just the actual sex with children a pedophilia desires, but other pedophiliac manifestations as well.

My religious beliefs are not based on logic. But my beliefs about what our government should and should not do, and the rights we should or should not have, are not based on "natural law." I think "natural law" arguments make bad policy, for precisely the concerns you expressed about arbitrariness.

More on this in my soon to come (sometime before midnight, I reckon) livejournal account.

#192 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 07:45 PM:

Thanks, Kimberly. I was easily able to follow the link despite its unlinkiness.

#193 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 08:12 PM:

This is related to the "drive-by parenting" thread, and an example of positive change of the kind that I believe is resisted by Pope Benedict XVI, but I don't really know where it belongs, so Open Thread 39:

The Mathematics of Love: Interview with John Gottman

"... at this point in the United States, it seems like we're going through a major sociological shift, and I don't know where it came from. In the last 40 years it seems that men have really changed. Forty years ago men didn't attend the birth of their babies, now 91 percent of men do attend the birth of their babies. That's interesting. But there something else too. What I'm seeing everywhere in the United States, regardless of ethnicity, and race, and culture, and social class, is that men have changed in very dramatic ways. And in a very fundamental way that has to do with existential choice and meaning, men want to be involved in the life of their babies, to be better fathers, and through that, to be better partners, as well. The major commitment is really to the baby. It's a spectacular change...."

#195 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 12:55 PM:

Gee, JvP, I was wanting to fit that link into here somehow -- it's an article I recommend incredibly highly (with Gottman getting 90%+ accuracy on social predictions, I'm thinking that he may be the Einstein the social sciences have been looking for). Not said lightly.

#196 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 02:25 PM:

Kimberly, PNH actually has the basic syntax for link creation in the header (footer?) of Electrolite's comment form, IIRC.

For those of you who read a lot of forums and blogs where commenters don't always know how to link to something, I recommend the URL Link extension for Firefox. Very handy.

Now...can someone please tell me why I am completely unable to remember that "recommend" only has one "c" but two "m"s? Please? How is it possible that I use this word so frequently and cannot grasp this, but can successfully spell prophylaxis or cuendillar without fail?

#197 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 02:37 PM:

Could be worse. Even with a dictionary open in front of me-- even cutting and pasting from a page that has it spelled correctly-- I can never get horgipoozlesniz right.

#198 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Skwid, just remember that the sees and ems add up to 2100. A brute force mnemonic for a hard case.

#199 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 02:48 PM:

Skwid: Thanks. I will practice later if I find a link I'd like to make all link-y. I knew I remembered there were instructions somewhere. Infrequent posting (until, oddly, just as of late), even with near constant lurking, leaves me with every post feeling like the first...

I have the SAME problem with recommend. It almost never fails (although I got it right this time only because of the context). There are a few other words I have that problem with. Occurrence. See, it doesn't look right even there.

Kip, that hurts my head just to look at it and try to figure it out. But I have math anxiety. It's why I went to law school instead of graduate school. There isn't any math on the LSAT. Just thinking about numbers can make my temples tighten and my mouth go dry.

#200 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 02:56 PM:

But Kimberly, how will you calculate your 30% of the contingency fee? :) Be glad you don't go to law school with my husband -- he carries at least one slide rule at all times.

#201 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Billable hours all the way, Janet. ;) And software. And a very talented secretary.

Plus, spouse J. and pup D. both have quick and agile mathematic minds. I already have a hard time helping D. with his math homework. I'm the "reading/writing/social studies" tutor. If I need to do some calculations quickly, I ask my child. I'm not too proud.

#202 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Skwid: first you commend it, then you re-commend it. Commend is almost the same as command.

I had this same problem until a) I started using mnemonics like the above, and b) I realized that re- is a prefix and rec- isn't, and that all the words I know with double Cs in that position have the first pronounced as K and the second as S: so 'accelerate' but 'decelerate'. (Non sequitur: the first of these sounds like it should mean to choke on celery, and the second one to pick that revolting vegetable out of (something) - "I decelerated my soup before eating it, so I had a pile of celery on the side of my plate.")

'Accept', 'access', 'accede'. There're no recc- words at all AFAICR, and if there were they'd be pronounced /reks-/.

Hope this helps.

#203 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Kimberly:

"I have math anxiety.... Just thinking about numbers can make my temples tighten and my mouth go dry." [even though] "spouse J. and pup D. both have quick and agile mathematic minds."

My search of the precedents and statutes, ummm, I mean the literature, shows:

(1) There really is such a thing as "Dyscalculia"
= Math Learning Disorder = Math Anxiety;

(2) It is now listed as a syndrome in that silly Psychiatrists' handbook thingie;

(3) Some State Departments of Education admit this, and have programs in place, similar to but smaller than Dyslexia and Illiteracy programs.

(4) No parent or teacher says "It's okay to be illiterate. I have trouble reading too."

(5) Lots of parents and teachers say "It's okay to hate math. I have trouble with Math too."

(6) Deeper analysis of the literature shows that roughly 4% of Americans show some serious degree of Dyscalculia.

(7) That comes from 1% with various neurological abnormalities, where no educational strategy would work, plus 3% who just have had rotten teachers and/or rotten parents and/or rotten peer pressure.

(8) The latter 3/4 of the Math Challenged can be SAVED by a great teacher, who studies the literature, works hard to reach the individual student based on that student's learning style.

There are many amazing anecdotes in the literature, which are consistent with my own Math teaching experience, in which two Universities consider me a "miracle worker" - and the most recent de facto fired me for making the illiterate Chairman and the under-degreed non-published Math coordinator look bad by comparison.

Imagine. 3/4 of students with Math Anxiety COULD be cured, but the school systems are mostly indifferent. Can you say "Class Action Suit?" Oh, I forgot, Emperor Bush II thinks he's "solved" the problem in "Leave No Child behind" -- and several states (most recently Utah) told him to, with all due respect, shove it.

I am very passionate about this. I resent our school system being mostly destroyed by a combination of malign neglect and actual malice. At least one author claims that our public schools were intentionally ruined in order to create more docile and brainwashable corporate worker drones.

When the Chinese have their Moon Base, and the Indians, and the Japanese, and even the Europeans, but no USA there, I will know whom to blame. I have a sentimental attachment to my country. But my priorities are more and more aligned with my having spent the vast majority of my life as intentionally a Citizen of the Galaxy.

#204 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:09 PM:

(4) No parent or teacher says "It's okay to be illiterate. I have trouble reading too."
(5) Lots of parents and teachers say "It's okay to hate math. I have trouble with Math too."

You know, I've never thought of that but that is so true.

#205 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:22 PM:

Thanks, Xopher. That "commend" bit probably will help. Much appreciated.

As to Dyscalculia...hoo boy. Here we go again.

#206 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:22 PM:

JVP, I 100% agree with you!

We most emphatically DO NOT think my math anxiety is okay. I attribute it to some spectacularly bad teaching in the 4th grade, coupled with a sexist math teacher or two in high school. I actually found, my senior year in high school and the first time I went to college, that with a patient teacher and a good tutor (who didn't think I was stupid for not being able to do simple calculations QUICKLY, or at least did not express such thoughts if he had them), I could do very well. I ended up with very good grades in pre-calc and trig. So my level of anxiety must not be TOO high. I mean, I know my times tables, and can do basic algebra. I think I've forgotten most of the trig.

The math anxiety, however, does still rear its ugly head. It usually manifets when I need to do something in a rush, and am confronted with black numbers on white paper, or when someone asks me verbally to do a math problem, and expects me to do it mentally.

We have been very pleased with the math program at puppy's elementary schools so far. He's very good at math. We made a deliberate effort to avoid sharing my math anxiety with him, by letting him know how much I wish I were better with numbers. But I've heard his classmates parents say on occasion, "Well, math IS hard. Not everyone can be good at math."

And I can help him with his homework if I do it slowly, and I do help with "everyday math" activities, like "Count back the change, D." and "Look, when you skated diagonally across the ice and got to boards at the same time as the opposing forward, and then checked him on his behind, that was geometry!"

It does make me angry. A combination of school, parental and social pressures did lead me (with, I must admit, much internal cooperation and abdication of responsibility on my part) to abandon not only math and science (just ESPECIALLY math and science), but also basic smarts altogether. I didn't figure out that outwardly-visible intelligence was a good thing, really, until just before the *second* time I went to college.

#207 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:28 PM:

The thing is, we have a pretty decent definition of how literate one must be to handle the world and be a good citizen. When it comes to math it's all contradictory and squishy. People get along if they can check their paycheck and grocery receipts. But for citizenship one ought to be able to critique the claims made in the arguments for a new law, check exposure limits for pesticides, compare information in the census and newspaper articles . . .

but Statistics is taught at the end of high school and in college, and you're supposed to take Calculus first, which is beautiful but just not accessible to a lot of people. And anyway we don't teach Algebra until two or four years after we ought to, and we keep bombarding them with four-and-vife-place long division when they haven't really understood ratios.

Which is why most people kind of give up on math, even if they have good teachers. The things they need to know are saddled with the baggage of things they don't need to know and can't really bring themselves to do the incredible labor it would take to get them, and the things they need to know are withheld from them for years while they fiddle around with "basics."

And then they get tested as if they took an entirely different curriculum.

#208 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:30 PM:

JVP - I truly wish I had had better math teachers at a young age. I had stern taskmasters who saw my relative weakness in math as an unacceptable deviation from the rest of my good grades.

My brain easily retains music and words, and I excelled at many things that are types of math (I loved geometry and got a very decent score on the AP music theory exam), but equations tend to lead to big-time stress.

My dyscalculia (if that is what it is) shows up most severely when I am under pressure - for some reason, simple tricks evade me (like moving the decimal point to get 10%, dividing that by 2, and adding to get a 15% tip after a stressful meal with a client). Its as if my retentive memory goes away completely in those instances - at least as far as math is concerned.

My best friend is dyslexic - prior to her diagnosis, her father's "cure" for her bad grades was to sit her in a hard kitchen chair and have her read, read, read. I think the pressure he put her through probably exacerbated her problem. It seemed no matter how hard she worked, she didn't get good grades (at least, until she was diagnosed and was given some good coping tools). I only wish I could have had some good coping tools in my kit, as I always felt I was banging my head against a brick wall, no matter how hard I tried at math.

#209 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:34 PM:

Kimberly - I'm noticing a pattern. It's not necessarily so much the math - it's the speed at which we are expected to do the problem. I am deeply familiar with the "black marks on the page" phenomenon.

I went to law school as well - and the lack of math on the LSAT was a nice feature for me, I admit: though the logic problems they gave us were what I would have referred to in my post above as "math-related."

#210 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:45 PM:

"The thing is, we have a pretty decent definition of how literate one must be to handle the world and be a good citizen. When it comes to math it's all contradictory and squishy."

It's class and skill dependent, Lucy. Generally speaking, the more discretionary income one has, the more use for mathematics one has. Someone who has just enough money to pay, day to day, needs only a bit of arithmetic. Someone who has enough money to pay bills by check needs a bit more. For someone who has enough money to actually save a substantial amount of it, being able to understand rate-of-return is a very valuable skill.

In statistics there is a much-different kettle of fish; there are problems that even the experts don't understand very well. For instance, in the securities markets, the intuition of traders has long been more reliable than the calculations of economists.

"Which is why most people kind of give up on math, even if they have good teachers." The teachers may be good, but I think the curiculum is an utter muddle, and that is largely the source of the problem.

#211 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 04:50 PM:

I'm thinking that he may be the Einstein the social sciences have been looking for.

Or the Seldon of the social sciences...

#212 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:19 PM:

The Court's criticism of the statistics relied on by the District Court conveys the impression that a legislature in enacting a new law is to be subjected to the judicial equivalent of a doctoral examination in statistics. CRAIG v. BOREN, 429 U.S. 190 (1976) MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, dissenting

In this particular case it seemed to me the Court, perhaps deliberately, confused statistical significance - meaning something like clearly distinguishable - with other meanings of significant - meaning perhaps not insignificant, not to be overlooked or ignored.

The statistical differences are real that is statistically significant here - the Court may decide the differences are so small as to be insignificant but the numerical differences remain statistically significant.

For my money law schools should require elementary quantitative methods and elementary accounting - subject to easily quizzing out.

I once sat in on a freshmen orientation session in which math phobic were advised to major in Journalism - without the concurrent advice that journalism jobs are hard to get - almost impossible without a portfolio and experience.

I knew journalism majors who went to law school for lack of anything else to do - they wrote beautifully but I think lacked a certain understanding of logic and numerical thinking.

#213 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:29 PM:

[tangential, on learning disabilities]

Read regular, a dyslexic-friendly typeface with distinct lower-case "b" and "d", and so on. via.

It occurs to me that the basic reason we have dyslexia is that Roman letterforms are organized in no sensible way.

#214 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:37 PM:

While I wish I were less math-phobic, I do have to say that I, for one, found that my lit major/soc minor BA (which was rigorous and critically focused) provided me with ample training in logic and an excellent foundation for law school. I think any rigorous undergraduate course of study that requires critical thinking and critical writing skills provides an excellent basis for legal studies.

#215 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Randolph, I think the reason we have dyslexia is because we have literacy.


On a completely unrelated note, because this is an open thread, I did this because my daughter was complaining about the flag glying half mast for the Pope and not for the local boy who drowned.

#216 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:50 PM:

Lucy, still, it is possible to entirely eliminate mirror letters, eliminating that whole source of dyslexia. More generally, the task of learning letterforms would be much eased if the forms were more distinct and more ordered.

But oh, think of the conservative howls!

#217 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 05:53 PM:

Lucy K: I liked your poem.

#218 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 06:00 PM:

Kimberly, et al,

We most emphatically DO NOT think my math anxiety is okay. I attribute it to some spectacularly bad teaching in the 4th grade, coupled with a sexist math teacher or two in high school. I actually found, my senior year in high school and the first time I went to college, that with a patient teacher and a good tutor (who didn't think I was stupid for not being able to do simple calculations QUICKLY, or at least did not express such thoughts if he had them), I could do very well. I ended up with very good grades in pre-calc and trig. So my level of anxiety must not be TOO high. I mean, I know my times tables, and can do basic algebra. I think I've forgotten most of the trig.

My fiance has admitted that he never learned his multiplication tables, and that he stinks at basic math sans calculator, while I do calculations in my head on a daily basis. However, he got high marks as soon as they left the basics for Algebra and calculus and the like. It's an odd blind spot I occasionally trip over.

#219 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 06:15 PM:

Lenora Rose, I start to stumble at my twelves. The best thing about pup's school's math program (called, I believe, "Every Day Math,") is that it introduces concepts early (geometry and the underlying bases for simple fractions in first grade, for example) and repeats and expands, and utilizes repetitive drills for simple calculations along with the stepped introduction of new theory. So pup's multiplication is phenomenal. When I used to drill him, I would say, "12 x 11?" and he would say, "132?" And then I would think it through very carefully and after a minute or so (or maybe, on a bad day, after writing it down), I would say "Good Job!"

And then spouse J. would chortle helplessly from his studio computer.

#220 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 07:27 PM:

(I appreciate your noticing, Andy P.)

#221 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 10:33 PM:

(I appreciate your noticing, Andy P.)

Happy to oblige. I know I hate it when I say something and it vanishes into the Tangent Universe.

When I used to drill him, I would say, "12 x 11?" and he would say, "132?"

The 11s tables are nice because they're either repeats (like 8 x 11 = 88) or you add the numbers and put the sum in the middle (like 11 x 16 = 1(1+6)6 = 176). This gets generalized in the Trachtenberg system of speed arithmetic.

#222 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 10:58 PM:

If I'd had JvP as my maths teacher in grades 8, 9 and 10, it is likely that I would be able to understand the binomial theorem and furthermore, be able to factorise quadratic equations. After all, my mental arithmetic is fast and accurate, and I can do the simplest algebra, the sort you start before grade 8. But my maths teacher in those vital grades was one Spud Murphy, who was 73, 4 and 5 years old at the time, spoke indistinctly through a walrus moustache, and was barely together enough to lurch to the blackboard. I can't remember a single thing I learned from him, but whenever I read Lewis Carroll's "A-Sitting on a Gate", it's his face I put on the aged aged man.

Just as a matter of strictly idle curiosity, JvP, what do you get an hour for tutoring?

#223 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 11:10 PM:

Dave, one of my mother's high school teachers was an old man who came to school dressed (my mother insists) in his Bar Mitzvah suit. This suit was an ugly shade of brown, but what really caught the attention, besides the fact that it still fit, was the monogrammed handkerchief that he kept in his pocket. A monogrammed anything is a bad move if your name is Abraham Solomon Schindler.

#224 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Dave Luckett:

"Just as a matter of strictly idle curiosity, JvP, what do you get an hour for tutoring?"

One data point: my son charged $30 to $35 an hour for teaching schoolteachers how to use PC applications and the internt, when he was in 7th and 8th grade. I've just got to be worth more, with all my degrees, publications, and classroom experience. I think.

Part-time professoring was about $50 an hour. In theory, consulting and independent contracting has to be 2 or 3 times steady pay, to cover the fluctuations, overhead, marketing and so forth.

Me and a bunch of PhD's, professors, and experts founded a partnership called "New Millennium Education" in 1999, did the paperwork, got a business license, opened a bank account, wrote a business plan, testmarketed, did a round of events at posh hotel in ritzy neighborhoods. Our charges were $100 per hour. It ended when one of the members absconded with the treasury.

Then some ex-teachers, PhD, and I started a venture after a series of meetings in the local Unemployment Job Center. I was elected President. Then the one with $5,000 was arrested on suspecion of being a Middle Eastern terrorist, and our lawyer quit.

So, in theory, $100, but it hasn't worked yet.

Since I charge $30 and hour as a part-time paralegal, I can't go below that rate. In theory, I also charge $110 an hour for high tech consulting, but since the dotcom bubble burst, there's been little of that.

What do I charge? What the market will bear. But danged if I know what that is.

Today's mail has two more letters from colleges to which I applied, saying that they declined to invite me for interviews. One insisted, after an investigation that I demanded, that my faxed application arrived late, whereas I saw that it was sent on time. Who knows?

#225 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 12:57 AM:

You know you're a geek when being particled makes you burst out with loud happy noises.

(Several days before the article is to be brought to public attention... they have to have JUST put that up, as I delivered my final edit last night at midnight. How do you do it, Teresa?)

#226 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 05:29 AM:

Our Hostess moves in mysterious ways, Leonora.

Frequently by falling down.

#227 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 11:06 AM:

Not in my name:
How I was asked to 'author' a ghostwritten research paper.
By Adriane Fugh-Berman
Thursday April 21, 2005
The Guardian

"Recently, the House of Commons health select committee looked at the submission of ghostwritten articles to medical journals. Witnesses from two pharmaceutical groups, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, 'strongly denied that ghostwriting was practised in their respective companies'...."

#228 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 11:30 AM:

To the person who said that
"The Madness of George III may be viewed out of sequence"

Maybe it's better to say we are viewing him out of order.

How about Henry the IV, Part !!?

Or Prince Albert in a can?

#229 ::: erik nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 12:37 PM:

Replying to Faren Miller re Star Wars and where it rips off its archetypes/cliches from the old movies;

I say:
Han Solo is Bogart
Jabba the Hutt is Sidney Greenstreet

#230 ::: eriknelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 12:41 PM:

Re JVP et al on zeppelins in alternate history:

I recall a story that ran in Omni many years ago, in an alternate Regency England. The characters used balloons to attack London and stage a coup. The cute part was that the characters were Darcy, Bingley et al from Pride and Prejudice.

#231 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 01:12 PM:

I recall a story that ran in Omni years ago about an alternate history of Earth where Europeans discovered immortality in the 19th Century. I guess you could say it was an early example of steampunk — the Victorian Age went on for several centuries and spread throughout the solar system. I remember there was a reference to Mark Twain writing a travelogue to Mars, a follow-up to his real-world books "The Innocents Abroad" and "Following the Equator."

#232 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 01:22 PM:

Referring to the side post on letters of marque and reprisal, the author needs to do some more research. While we did not sign the Declaration of Paris in 1856, we did sign the Hague Conventions of 1907 that do restrict privateering and prize money, and federal law also prohibits it. We have never formally adopted the earlier Declaration as it would take a constitutional amendment. But settled international law, that we do accept despite the current administration, sees little difference betweeen privateers and pirates, and these days privateering would meet many legal definitions of state sponored terrorism.

#233 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 03:02 PM:

Without wishing to suggest that the "argument" for privateering ever made any sense in the first place, back in the day, captains hunted down enemy ships because there was money in it. Most privateers were not interested at all in sinking enemy ships of war, and very few of them were equipped to do so; the object was to find a cargo vessel -- legitimate or smuggler -- capture it, and sell in the prize and cargo, often in an inflated wartime market. (At times this was indistinguishable from smuggling.)

Now, there's certainly a market for armaments hijacked from one's enemies -- every resistance force knows this -- but there's a slightly off sound in Cap'n Bloodnok of the Bumblaster announcing that he's gonna kill some wicked paynims and flog their Semtex and RPGs on the black market. And since the model for smuggling these days is to hide what we Traveller types call "small packages" in a large ship full of legitimate cargo, the question of what happens to the tractor parts and iPods raises itself.

If you wake at midnight, and hear a curtailed scream,
Go back to your Xbox and assume it's just a dream;
Whiffs of grape and profit cover every sin,
War gets rather jolly when the Amateurs rush in.

Here's a squad of supermen
Stumbling in the dark,
Rifles for the rascal,
Mortars for the mark,
Hand grenades hung by their rings make a macho din,
Watch CNN, my darling, as the Amateurs rush in.

#234 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 03:46 PM:

Then there's the awkward little problem--what if there's nothing but tractor parts, iPods, and other miscellaneous items of legitimate commmerce?

In the old days, you sailed your catch to a prize court, which examined your letter of marque, and determined whether you had a legitimate capture, and saw to it that it was sold openly [like the Key West wreckers' court, I suppose]. Is there any legitimate prize court left where Cap'n Bloodnok could take his catch?

#235 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 03:51 PM:

In the old days, Letters of Marque were legalized piracy. The goal of the nation granting the Letters was to disrupt the enemy's commerce and make the enemy's merchant fleet fearful.

There's a word we use today for people who wage war by trying to cause generalized disruption and fear. What was that word again? I just can't remember it. I know it rhymes with "shmerrorism" though.

#236 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 06:20 PM:

Skwid/Xopher: knowing a few Latin prepositions (ad, ab, de, cum, pre, maybe others), and the tendency for their final consonants to change to match, makes spelling compound words a lot easier; e.g., "accelerate" = "ad"(toward)+"celere"(knowing that this means "speed" is helpful but not necessary, since you can compare with "decelerate").

Mike: I never expected to see \that/ filked. Good one.

#237 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2005, 07:19 PM:

Claude wrote: Referring to the side post on letters of marque and reprisal, the author needs to do some more research.

I'd be more inclined to say the author needs to stop hiding the little orange pills under his tongue.

Somewhat related to this, there's the Arizonan volunteer border patrollers... who, by stumbling around trampling tracks and setting off motion detectors, are making things HARDER for the legitimate Border Patrol. (I'd decry their appropriation of the name "Minutemen", but it turns out the first "Minutemen" were totally ineffective as well. Revere & company roused them on April 18th, 1775; they mustered on Lexington Green; the minute the British opened fire they ran like rabbits. The only reason the British didn't take Concord was all the locals-- the SMART ones, or at least the ones smart enough not to WANT to run around with their dicks hanging out pretending to be soldiers-- turned into snipers.)

#238 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 12:37 AM:

Emily: Thank you! That sounds like what I'm looking for...

John M. Ford: Your brilliant alternate dialog for Star Wars has managed to distract my magpie mind from the truly crapular idea of Mickey Rooney as Luke. Well done! Now if I could only get the question of what damage Eccles and Bluebottle would do with Semtex and RPG's out of my head I'd be able to sleep a lot better...

#239 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 03:33 AM:

Nightline got me sufficiently riled that when material got replayed from it on the news that runs on WCVB at 2 AM, I called the station and left a gripe commentary.

Basically the "coverage" of this particular installment of Nightline used such moderate and liberal folks as lying schmo Rick Santorum, Anton Scalia, and Joe Lieberman discussing judicial nomination filibustering.

Lying scum Santorum claimed that [his party] had NEVER EVER filibusters a court nomination on Capitol Hill. Bovine excrement, what about Abe Fortas?!

Joe Lieberman a social conservative, bigtime. And Anton Scalia is a religious fanatic who seems to believe that religion should be imposed on people, regardless of their personal values that don't cross property lines.

No interviewing of e.g. Barbara Boxer, no interviewing of David Souter or Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, no, only social rightwing extremists.

And Lieberman had spoke against filibusters a decade or more ago.

This is NOT balanced or fair coverage, it's Faux News with the network name changed....

#240 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 06:41 AM:

Bruce E.: Well, I was thinking Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones as Jan and Jace . . . I mean Leia and Luke, yes indeed, that's what I mean. If we were in fact on another MGM lot, and Mickey were Luke, Judy would have to be Leia, and that would make up for a lot. (Unless it was Ann Rutherford, but Andy Hardy Saves the Galaxy takes us in an even stranger direction.)

In an afterdinner (and after-afterdinner-drinks) conversation once, I started outlining how MGM, and for contrast Warners, would have made A Night at the Opera without the Marxes, on an old operative principle that, in a Marx film, everyone except Los Bros. is operating in a perfectly straightforward genre picture; only they keep throwing piledrivers at the fourth wall. (For example, the gangsters in Monkey Business, or Ambassador Bolton . . . I mean, Trentino in Duck Soup, who relentlessly carry on as if this is how they always conduct their gangsterly or ambassadorial affairs.

Anyway, the MGM picture would be a lesser A musical (I doubt Busby Berkeley would go anywhere near opera), with much backstage melodrama and too damn much opera, while the Warners would have made a nice B movie, with the Good Tenor having to take a job as a singing waiter in Little Italy, attracting the attention of colorful character actors, including a wisecracking reporter who doesn't do arts features, but "gimme something for the front page and I'll make you famous, kid." So when the Evil Tenor passes out drunk in the back seat of a Pierce-Arrow roadster in the rain, and acquires laryngitis . . . anyway, I could probably determine not only the plots, but the casts and much of the crews.

I should probably just do a whole (not very long) book of Pseudocinema to shelve next to the Pseudobiblia, certainly including the James Cagney Adventures of Robin Hood, though that's another story. Maybe there'll be time eventually.

#241 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 09:04 AM:

Have you guys seen this disheartening news from Manipur in northern India? I found the link at LanguageHat and can think of nothing to say but O tempora, o mores.

#242 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 11:02 AM:

The Very New York particle reminds me of a very recent New Yorker cartoon, perhaps in the current issue. It's a gritty street scene, including a utility pole with a wind-battered "Lost Pigeon" sign on it.

#243 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 11:19 AM:

I love the Pavarotti/elephants particle. Then again, I love pretty much everything on that site, especially the Zoology Dragon and Gay Bar. And the rude hedgehogs, and the Laibach Kittens, and the Urban Biker Kitten, and the Mango Biscuit song. Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

And on a totally different note, from today's NY Times: "A week later, Wendy's posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the finger." The answer is simple - clone the finger and ask it who it is!

#244 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 11:24 AM:

I just emailed John Shirley an 11,000 word draft of my treatise on Hyperpublishing, when this popped up:

Automated Storyteller
The curse of the prolific author
By Andre Mayer
April 14, 2005

"... There is also that exceptional breed of literary author who not only produces obsessively but does so in a wide range of styles and with a staggering commitment to quality. Joyce Carol Oates (Them, Zombie) is the most prominent representative of that tiny pantheon. Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle series) and William T. Vollmann (Butterfly Stories, Royal Family) each average a novel a year — each typically the heft of a phone book. Stephenson‘s three-part Baroque Cycle numbers over 2,500 pages; Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down — a seven-volume treatise on the history of violence — weighs in at 3,352 pages. Writers like that don’t invite scorn so much as unmitigated envy."

"George Murray, a poet and co-editor of the literary blog Bookninja.com, sees the near-annual release of a new Stephen King novel as 'the literary equivalent of watching a skinny Japanese dude scarf down 100 hot dogs in an eating contest; you are kind of grossed out, but gotta hand it to him.' Murray harbors a unique theory about what distinguishes a genre writer like King from a so-called serious artist like Joyce Carol Oates. 'It seems with Oates the hotdog eater is a performance artist commenting on the nature of consumption and American hegemony,' Murray avers. 'With King it’s just a guy eating 100 hot dogs, then looking like he’s going to die of nitrate poisoning.'"

#245 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 12:13 PM:

Thanks, JVP. That's an extraordinarily irritating story.

#246 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 12:26 PM:

Teresa:

You're welcome. My wife reminds us of the book "Oneupmanship." As she recalls it, there are two styles of onupmanship: Edinburgh and Oxford. The Edinburgh style is to always appear to be working incredibly hard. Example: burst into the library, run to a bookshelf, pull out a book at random, flip through pages, jot something down on a scrap of paper, and dash out. The Oxford style is to appear effortless. Example: disappear the week before final exams, saying that you're going to be skiing at Davos. Show up just as exams start, suntanned. They'll never know that you were studying in your room round the clock, with a sunlamp.

Also, the song lyric: "Anything you can do, I can do better. Anything you can do, I can do too." More recently, "The cynics, the apathy oneupmanship order! Watching beginnings of social decay.
Gloating or sneering at life's disarray..." [Iron Maiden - "Virus" (Harris/Gers/Murray/Bayley)]

Will Pope Benedict XVI bring back the Iron Maiden for gays and dissenting theologians? Whhops, wrong thread.

#247 ::: Edo ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 12:54 PM:

I'm a bit late for the math party, but the mentat wiki may be of interest to some. Climbing up the url trail to www.ludism.org reveals

The Center for Ludic Synergy exists to foster ludism, or philosophy as it applies to games and gaming.
Both areas of the site seem a little sparse but I'm not a gamer nor am I especially in need of further developing my math skills. Memory however...

#248 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Elephants, Yeah is one of the most brilliant exploitations of a Mondegreen I've ever seen.

#249 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Anyone else notice that links aren't particularly working? The "recent comments" links take you either to the top of the thread or somewhere near it, and internal links to particular posts do something similar.

Or is it just me? But I've noticed this on two different machines, and the one I'm using now is relatively modern.

#250 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Xopher: It's working fine for me, and has been all day.

--Mary Aileen

#251 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 06:24 PM:

Has anyone else seen the anti-gay adoption/foster care amendment to a bill going through the Texas legislature?

S.B. 6

Coverage from News24, Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, and 356gay. I'm having trouble finding coverage of the story outside of Gay rights sites.

I suspect that the amendment will be shot down in Texas Senate as the fiscal impact is around $8 mil, not to mention the paperwork logistics/civil liberties nightmare it would create. Still, even the thought of it is pretty disgusting.

#252 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 07:04 PM:

Or is it just me?

Not just you--but it seems to be back to normal now.

#253 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 10:14 PM:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for Elephants Yeah!

Elephants are my father's favorite creature, so that made me very happy.

#254 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2005, 10:20 PM:

Dolloch: it's receiving fairly wide play down here in the armpit of Hades. Sometimes I really hate living here. Anyway, the bill's Senate sponsor seems to be massively annoyed that this is going to hold up a (truly needed) reform bill. I'm fairly confident that it won't go anywhere.

#255 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2005, 06:00 PM:

The Virginia law gets around explicitly mentioning gay people by not letting people who live together but aren't married adopt or do foster care. This means a sister and brother, for example, couldn't do foster care.

#256 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2005, 10:55 PM:

The NYTimes has an article on self-publishing. PA and Dee Powers are mentioned, but Atlanta Nights is not.

#257 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 04:52 PM:

The "vous travaillez pour l'armée" particle is, um, gosh. Breathtaking. What's the phrase you use in the Friedman posting? It "make[s] your brain seize up and throw a tooth."

#258 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 05:15 PM:

Yikes. I agree with Andrew. What's next, plastic fetuses with protest signs?

#259 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 06:49 PM:

Andrew & Marilee:

When my son was 1-ish, and not yet toddling, he liked to crawl with a toy in each hand. My father (his grandfather) remarked that he hoped the lad would never need, in later years, to crawl through barbed wire and across a battlefield, under fire, with a pistol clutched in each fist. Thanks to Emperor Bush, that is not entirely impossible.

#260 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 08:34 PM:

Andrew and Marilee: Did you see the FAQ? I like Miss Poppy already.

Isn't MissPoppy.com making fun of Jesus?
Jesus continually defies attempts by humanity to nail him down. He gave us two simple commandments: to love ourselves and our neighbor as ourselves. Instead of focusing on these two commandments Christianity has fractured into thousands of variations, each variation with a Jesus it claims to own exclusively, and a list of rules it applies freely to everyone else. Jesus was frustrated with this kind of behavior.

#261 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 10:00 PM:

Absolutely, props to Miss Poppy. But those moments between the first glimpse of the item's image-and-caption and the point where your Onboard Parody Detector finally goes ping! are...whoa. The floor drops far far away into the void.

#262 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 10:11 PM:

Speaking of mondegreens (and earlier, bookstores), a week or two ago I overheard a marvellous customer/clerk exchange which illustrated the importance of correct enunciation:

"Do you have the original book of The Amityville Horror?"
"I'm not sure. Have you checked the erotica section?"

#263 ::: Alexis Duncan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 10:11 PM:

Wait, that's a parody? ...yep, looking again just now, I see the Landover Baptist link on the side. Cripes, my own Onboard Parody Detector is sprung by now.

#264 ::: Sarah G. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 10:57 PM:

If I weren't already reading the Drink at Work site and blog, the post on Coping Poorly with Rejection would take care of that. Check it out: http://www.drinkatwork.com/2005/04/comic-strip-writing-101-coping-poorly.html

#265 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2005, 11:06 PM:

I think it's both a parody and the thing itself at once, and it only becomes one or the other when you open the box. Yes, it's poking fun, but then you read the FAQ, which kind of suggests that there's something more complex going on beneath the surface. Doesn't it? I mean, it may sell those fabulous Landover Baptist Heathen tank tops, but Landover Baptist it ain't. Necessarily. Take, for example, these Love One Another greeting cards. They are rather nice, really, and require a Minimum Safe Ironic Distance of pretty much zero--even for a heathen like me.

#266 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 12:26 AM:

I'm informed that the Serenity fansite will have the trailer for the movie on Tuesday. I was interested enough to join. And the Disney fansite has the theatrical trailer for Howl's Moving Castle up already, indicating a June release (sources say 10 June). It's stunning. It may not be precisely DWJ's story, but it's likely to be at least as good.

Next year's Long Form Dramatic Presentation Hugo is setting up to be a really hard choice.

#267 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 07:43 AM:

Mispoppy.com sells A hefty 7 ounce bar of soap made from Somalian Frankencense, Indonesian Nutmeg and ginger in 100% vegetable soap base.

No lamb's blood?

#268 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 10:12 AM:

Do please report back on the _Serenity_ trailer; having encountered River, Simon, and Wash in a different context, I've been thinking about picking up the _Firefly_ DVDs, especially since the movie's forthcoming.

#269 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 10:21 AM:

Kate, there's no need to wait for a report on the Serenity trailer, although buzz on the movie has been spectaculariffic. The show was excellent and the DVDs are cheap. Go get!

#270 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 11:55 AM:

I second picking up the Firefly DVDs. Saw the first broadcast episode, thought it was a waste. Decided to check out the DVDs, and found that the first broadcast ep was supposed to be the second, that the whole thing was much more than a Western in space, and that it was some of the best SF I've ever seen. Highly recommended.

#271 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 12:13 PM:

I'm presuming that the "Serenity" trailer described is more extensive than the one premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, which was very well received.

My son has now seen Frank Miller's "Sin City" 5 times. My wife and I were with him this last time. It renews our discussion in Making Light on the distinction between "hardboiled" and "noir." It seemed to me that "Sin City" was over-the-top in both catgories. I have no beef with Tarantino getting $1,000,000 for one day of directing one scene. The film is dark, chilling, funny, and visually amazing. The more one knows about "hardboiled" and "noir" and graphic novels, the more fun it is. There are also two hobbits in it.

#272 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Regarding another subthread, I practically grew up in the aforementioned Brooklyn Public Library. It includes the magnificent Grand Army Plaza library, not far for Mr. & Mrs. Asimov's tobacco, candy, and pulp fiction store, alas no longer extant. Which reminds me of the First Paradox of Library Science:

"Consider a library which compiles a bibliographic catalog of all (and only those) catalogs which do not list themselves. Then does the library's catalog list itself?"

#273 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 01:00 PM:

What about next year's prospects for Short Form, and the following year's, though...??!!

#274 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 01:42 PM:

A number of months ago, there was a discussion on this blog about copyright terms and whether they should last the life of the author plus 70 years or whether they should be fixed at 40 years. I wrote a document in favor of 40 years, and it describes a number of new metaphors for copyright law. It's posted here:

http://www.greglondon.com/bountyhunters/

#275 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 01:47 PM:

I really like the Perry Bible Fellowship for today.

#276 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 01:56 PM:

TexAnne - That's a relief and disappointing at the same time (relief on the gay part, disappointing on the needed reform). At least it's not one of those "well they're just a bunch of cousin-f***ing rednecks down there, that's why" things. Quite a relief as my cousins live in Garland!

Okay, so I have a warped sense of humor. :)


Marilee - Sneaky bastards! You'd think that the logic would be continuous across the conservative platform: no abortion and make adoption easier. Gah.

#277 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 02:11 PM:

I don't feel like trawling through looking for the last vanity press thread, so I'll put it here...

Average vanity press sales, by their own figures, seem to be running at about 75-150 copies, depending on press. That's the mean, including the big sales for people who happen to have a captive market - or who've bought lots of copies of their own books. The median's likely to be rather lower.

I've just received my monthly royalty statement from an erotic romance ebook publisher. My latest book has been out for pretty much a month. In its first month, that book has sold more than the total number of copies the typical vanity press author will sell in total. One or two of my friends will have bought it, but not at my urging - they'll have bought it because they know my writing and like it well enough to pay for it. I sincerely hope that none of my family have bought it, or indeed know about it. :-)

And yes, this is a niche book. Odd content, odd length (novella). It's still managing to sell quite nicely as a small press item, so it appears that I am one of those mysteriously favoured by the Great Publisher Conspiracy Against Good Books. I don't *remember* sleeping with or being related to anyone at the publishing house, but there you go...

#278 ::: dlacey ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 02:31 PM:

No need to join the Serenity fan site to view the trailer if you don't want to. I'm told it will be available at the Apple trailer site on Tuesday as well. I too recommend picking up the dvds.

#279 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 04:03 PM:

For the new Particle:
Comix Without Words
I found it very nice to click on a thumbnail and see a few funny panels, with an identification of the name of the artists.

Yet, for bibliographic purposes, I'm a little frustrated by the bald statement:

"(All images are copyright by their respective artists and/or publishers)"

No effort seems to have been expended so far to identify the years involved, the publishers, the country of the artists or publisher. The first thumbnail, upper left of home page, correctly identifies the artist Carl Andersson. But why not also identify the comix strip as "Henry" and tell us if the artist is or isn't the Swedish "Carl Erland Andersson" which Amazon.com uselessly gives me on a search?

The thumbnail in lower right gives Jim Woodring, and the bottom panel suggests that he's French. So why not list the bestselling titles:

"The Frank Book"
by Jim Woodring (Hardcover - June 2003)

Seeing Things
by Jim Woodring (Paperback - April 30, 2005)

Jim Woodring Pupshaw And Pushpaw #1
by Jim Woodring (Hardcover - August 25, 2004)

and is this the same artist as in:

Star Wars - Jabba the Hutt: Art of the Deal
by Jim Woodring, Art Wetherell (Paperback - June 3, 1998)

And why does the particle so much overlap:

http://bugpowder.com/lexikon/anderson.carl.html

Fun, but could be SO much more. I hope that
"Andy Konkryku" or whomever finishes making this librarian-friendly.

#280 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 05:29 PM:

News from the wilds of Texas
..........
Mariel Polter, 12, an all-A student in seventh grade at Kealing Middle School, dragged out her purple plastic knitting needles in class to do some knitting.

Mariel had just finished up her TAKS test early. So she figured she'd busy herself and kill some time creatively.


.................


Robbin says the teacher kept the knitting needles until after school, which apparently left Mariel a bit confused.


"She said she didn't understand why they didn't just let her put them back in her backpack, but that would make them a concealed weapon, and that would have been even worse," said David Polter, Mariel's dad.

http://www.statesman.com/search/content/metro/stories/04/24kelso.html

#281 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 06:07 PM:

That's the dumbest thing I've heard in...well, hours.

#282 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 06:37 PM:

So in New Jersey they teach the kids to knit at recess, and in Texas they regard knitting as a dangerous activity and take away the needles?

--Mary Aileen

#283 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Clark, I can't get into the site you reference, and I can't get Google to give me anything about Mariel Polter, knitting needles, and Kealing Middle School together, or even any combination of the two.

Check the dateline for me please?

My kid takes her knitting and crocheting to school most days. Some days, because she has an open period in the middle of the day, she takes her sewing machine.

#284 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 11:21 PM:

From the Tips on spinning cat hair Particle:

Squeeze out the excess water. Hold your skein by one end and beat it against smooth surface (eg: the edge of your sink, top of your washing machine etc).

She forgets to mention that if you do this before cutting the cat's hair, you'll never have shedding problems again.

#285 ::: Alexis Duncan ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 11:22 PM:

Lucy: You can get into www.statesman.com using BugMeNot.

The article is an editorial by one John Kelso, dated Sunday April 24. The seizure of the knitting needles occurred on "Wednesday", presumably the 20th.

#286 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 03:22 AM:

Clarke sent me the entire text. I still can't get any corroboration that the thing actually happened, and lately I've been getting cynical about this kind of story.

#287 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 07:03 AM:

Kate Nepveu: having encountered River, Simon, and Wash in a different context

Out of interest, what context was that?

I've been thinking about picking up the _Firefly_ DVDs

To me, Firefly has all the strengths and weaknesses I'd expect from Joss Whedon doing science fiction: the world-building is a bit dodgy, but there are interesting characters, sharp dialogue, and lots of neat touches.

#288 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 09:19 AM:

Not to turn this into another politics thread, but it seems the Bush adminstration isn't even bothering to hide what it's doing any more:

No Kerry supporters at IATC meeting. The IATC is the Inter-American Telephone Commission, discussing such stuff as telecomms standards and spectrum regulations.

What looks (to me) like a fairly accurate comment (from this Slashdot thread):

The difference between NIXON and Bush is that NIXON knew what he was doing was wrong. Bush seems to think anything he CAN do is fair.

#289 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:01 AM:

Lucy:
What kind of corroboration are you looking for?
The article is a column in the online edition of Austin's daily paper, complete with photo of the girl (and the URL that Clark supplied still fetches the article). The incident isn't likely to get widespread coverage - she only had to surrender her knitting until after school.
So, for me, the only curious thing is why Google news doesn't crawl the Austin-American Statesman.

#290 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:06 AM:

Is one allowed to weild knitting needles in the air?

#291 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:08 AM:

(It is not really a concern for non-knitting me, but I have, before 2001, been prevented by security from bringing my carpentry tools on a flight -- such tools are of course more potentially lethal than knitting needles.)

#292 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:15 AM:

I first met River, Simon, and Wash (and Kaylee, forgot her) in a LiveJournal multi-fandom RPG called Milliways, which is, yes, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, though it's not very close to Adams canon.

The quality of play there is surprisingly good for such a big game, and the _Firefly_ characters seem particularly well-done to me. And the cross-fandom stuff that they are involved with is most cool (like River dueling Roland Deschain of Gilead for Anthy Rosebride, in what also turned out to be her gunslinger's trial).

#293 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 12:01 PM:

No opinion on consensus reality in Austin; I haven't lived there for years and years. On the other hand the knitting needle column mentioned supra was reported in the electronic Opinion Journal Zero Tolerance Watch and sourced to the Austin Statesman see: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110006604
so I have great confidence that in the nature of the web the story will be promptly denied to the extent the story departs from consensus reality.

Interesting to notice the Austin Statesman - main stream media - is not considered credible for local to Austin news.

Perhaps, and perhaps not, the Google lack is explained by the fact that the subject piece is a column. When I knew something about it (substantially) all news reporting in the press was work for hire. The paper had all rights and when a member of the AP put all the news on the AP wire (figuratively, satellite whatever) as printed when the paper went to bed. This allowed the small town AM disc jocky to rip and read local news without hitting stolen item spelled backwards. I suspect Google catalogs the AP feed rather than crawls the individual papers.

Columns of course are a different and much more complex issue. See frex the litigation over the charged for archiving and consolidation of columns for which the newspaper had only first serial rights.

No idea what the specific business practices are of Google or of The Austin Statesman or of the Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal.

This from: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110006604
"[The teacher] got on the phone and said, 'Are you aware that Mariel has brought knitting needles to school?' " Robbin Polter recalled. "I said, 'Yes, I knew she had TAKS, and she thought she was just burning up some time.' Then he sort of realized how stupid it was, and he said, 'I don't really worry about Mariel, but Kealing has a zero tolerance policy.' I said, 'I didn't realize that would be a problem, but could you just hold on to them for her until after school?' "

The good news is that the teacher agreed. Mariel "wasn't disciplined, and she got her knitting needles back." Still, it seems ridiculous that a school would ban a "weapon" so harmless that, even post-Sept. 11, it's still allowed on airplanes.

#294 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 12:30 PM:

Um, one of my knitting friends has told me that knitting needles are NOT allowed on airplanes.

But if you don't allow knitting needles, you also can't allow pens and pencils. This makes school impossible.

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

#295 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 12:52 PM:

This makes school impossible.

They're doing marvelous things with touch-screens nowadays...

#296 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Suggested Particle:

Cross-overs and Spin-offs Master Page

Example:

"The final episode of St. Elsewhere revealed the entire series to be the daydream of an autistic child ...In that case the Newhart show was the dream of Bob Newhart's character from the Bob Newhart show who was in turn only a character in an autistic kid's head. Don't think about that too long or your head will explode."

Bewitched & The Flintstones:
"This crossover falls under the same sort of disclaimer that I put on the Simpsons/X-Files crossover. Usually with a crossover I assume the implication that the shows share a common reality with each other and with other shows they have crossed over with. The characters might easily move between each other's shows... except in cases like these. With cartoons I think of it as more of a one way street. When characters from one show pop up in a cartoon show I assume a sort of separate reality for that toon which happens to have their own versions of the visiting characters in question. And that is especially true in this case...."

#297 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 01:01 PM:

Xopher: as with all other TSA decisions, it rests with the individual screener. I've not had trouble, even with my metal needles. Or with five books in my carry-on.

#298 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 01:51 PM:

Okay, I'll believe it happened in Texas.

Like I said, my kid, and her friends, carry knitting needles all over school, knit in class, knit on the steps, and the only thing I've ever heard of a teacher or an an administrator saying is "can you make me one of those?"

#299 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 02:15 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer:

"Okay, I'll believe it happened in Texas."

Has something to do with the Right to Bare Arms versus the Right to Knit Sleeves?

#300 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Knitting needles: it also depends on the destination. Flights into England aren't officially allowed knitting needles, and I believe it's the same for some other international flights, depending on the country's rules, while flights within the US now allow knitting needles, pending the usual screener's discretion clause. I fly with knitting quite frequently and I've yet to have problems with knitting needles in the States -- although as usual the screener's discretion rule applies. (I generally carry small, double-pointed needles in plastic or wood, which don't look particularly threatening, especially as compared to massive long, straight, size 15 metal needles, which look more like Stone Age offensive weapons as updated by Apple.)

#301 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 04:38 PM:

I have just viewed the Serenity trailer and my reaction is mostly positive though I want to see it a couple more times.

Wash: This is going to be interesting
Mal: Define interesting
Wash: Oh god oh god oh god, we're all gonna die. (said in tones of utter calm)

Yeah, that's my Firefly

MKK

#302 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 04:39 PM:

Oh where oh where
Can Osama be,
Three years and counting,
He's still out free,

George Bush had promised that alive or dead,
Osama would be captured, end Al Aqaeda's head.


There was a bombing
On New York's shore,
Five thousand aren't there anymore,
The planes were hijacked
All aboard died,
The world united as its people cried,

Oh, oh, Osama,
Oh, oh, Osama,

The towers came down
Osama cheered,
His act of terrorism had made him feared.
Osama happy at all the dead,
But George Bush went after Saddam in Iraq instead.

Oh where oh where
Can Osama be,
Three years and counting,
He's still out free,

George Bush had promised that alive or dead,
Osama would be captured, end Al Aqaeda's head.

Now there's Zarqawi,
Who's in Iraq,
He's bombs Iraqi and all foreign staff,
Osama's out there, alive and free,
But George Bush get re-elected on a lying spree.

Oh where oh where
Can Osama be,
Three years and counting,
He's still out free,

George Bush invaded Iraq where's the gain
All the world has been defrauded and we're all in pain.

#303 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Xopher: I looked up the Canadian policy on this a while back, and apparently I'm not allowed to take my knitting needles on domestic flights here. From the comments above, it seems to vary in different places.

What's the policy if you knit with things that aren't needles? I've knit with chopsticks a couple times, but that was on the greyhound, not a plane.

#304 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 09:28 AM:

River dueling Roland Deschain of Gilead for Anthy Rosebride, in what also turned out to be her gunslinger's trial

Anthy Rosebride? (google, google) Ah, that makes a bit more sense now. I recognised no more than half the characters in that thread, but River did indeed seem well done.

#305 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 09:51 AM:

I came up with another sobriquet for Gag Order G[e]orge--Blunderbush.

Blunderbush, Blunderbush, foments War again,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, with his gang of men,
At statehood he fails, as the bereaveds wail,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, Blunderbush

Blunderbush, Blunderbush, taking rights away again,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, he makes others pay,
Economics mush, give hate crimes a push,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, Blunderbush.

Blunderbush, Blunderbush, he belongs in jail,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, war crimes have no bail,
Pray for his fall, ere he destroys all,
Blunderbush, Blunderbush, Blunderbush.

#306 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:40 AM:

Paul, I didn't know Anthy from a hole in the wall before I started reading Milliways either. I was relieved to hear that she's supposed to be difficult to get a handle on, and it wasn't just me.

#307 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:53 AM:

Anthy Himemiya (I'm not sure I spelled that right..) is from a manga/ anime called Revolutionary Girl Utena, or Utena. She is the Rosebride, and whoever is the victor in the duels that take place between a select few at her high school owns her. The manga is good, and I am in the middle of watching the anime....

#308 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:25 PM:

Okay, this doesn't happen very often, but I just learned a new and very useful word. The word is amphictyony.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, this means "a confederation of states established around a religious shrine or center, as the Oracle at Delphi."

Used metaphorically, this describes a whole lot of (non-religious) groups I'm part of. It's too good a word to leave forgotten.

I'm starting a campaign to return this word (and its relatives amphictyon and amphictyonic) to common usage. This is what comes of reading H. G. Wells' diatribe against the Catholic Church (Crux Ansata).

#309 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 12:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

So... Emperor Bush II and his minions Rove, DeLay, Frist, et al., want to transform the 50 States of the USA (or at least the Red States) into an amphictyony? With Giant stone Tablets at every State Supreme Courthouse?

On a much older thread, about visualizing 4-dimensional objects, I stumbled this morning on a page using Clifford algebras (don't ask) to solve old problems in nice new ways. It had a paragraph with some goodies for testing if an alleged 4-D visualizer can really "see" a Tesseract "in the mind's eye." The rhombic dodecahedron in this conext is pretty amazing.

The hypercube in 4D
===============

The cube in 4D, called a tesseract, has 16 vertices, 32 edges, 24 2-faces and 8 3-faces. Note that 16-32+24-8 = 0. The tesseract has 8 diagonals. The group rotational symmetries of the tesseract is of order 192. Its double group is represented by the group of unit quaternions (a,b), where a an b are in the double group of the 3D-cube, of order 48, and are due to
certain constraints.

The parallel projection of the tesseract in 3D, with vertex closest to the viewer, is a rhombic dodecahedron. An edge closest to the viewer,
gives a hexagonal prism. For web-pages of the tesseract, see

http://pweb.netcom.com/~hjsmith/WireFrame4/tesseract.html
http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs083/versch.html
http://dogfeathers.com/java/hyprcube.html
http://www.uccs.edu/~eswab/hcubsect.htm
http://www.cs.reading.ac.uk/people/jpb/publications/ndcubes.html
http://www.geom.umn.edu/docs/forum/polytope/

#310 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 12:47 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

So... Emperor Bush II and his minions Rove, DeLay, Frist, et al., want to transform the 50 States of the USA (or at least the Red States) into an amphictyony? With Giant stone Tablets at every State Supreme Courthouse?

On a much older thread, about visualizing 4-dimensional objects, I stumbled this morning on a page using Clifford algebras (don't ask) to solve old problems in nice new ways. It had a paragraph with some goodies for testing if an alleged 4-D visualizer can really "see" a Tesseract "in the mind's eye." The rhombic dodecahedron in this conext is pretty amazing.

The hypercube in 4D
===============

The cube in 4D, called a tesseract, has 16 vertices, 32 edges, 24 2-faces and 8 3-faces. Note that 16-32+24-8 = 0. The tesseract has 8 diagonals. The group rotational symmetries of the tesseract is of order 192. Its double group is represented by the group of unit quaternions (a,b), where a an b are in the double group of the 3D-cube, of order 48, and are due to
certain constraints.

The parallel projection of the tesseract in 3D, with vertex closest to the viewer, is a rhombic dodecahedron. An edge closest to the viewer,
gives a hexagonal prism. For web-pages of the tesseract, see

http://pweb.netcom.com/~hjsmith/WireFrame4/tesseract.html
http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs083/versch.html
http://dogfeathers.com/java/hyprcube.html
http://www.uccs.edu/~eswab/hcubsect.htm
http://www.cs.reading.ac.uk/people/jpb/publications/ndcubes.html
[another URL deleted here so as not to filter out this posting]

#311 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 03:43 PM:

I'm trying to remember which SF novels or novels stuck in my mind as having an amphictyony--I think it was Cherryh's Chanur series, on the planet the hani lived on.

The viewpoint characters in the series who were hani not having religion play a major role in their lives, about the only things that got mentioned in the books regarding religion in that species were comments such as "gods be feathered" which a note in one of the books mentioned as being an obscure point of religious dispute, and Pyanfar occasionally promsing to turn religious if only certain things would work out/disaster would be averted.

#313 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 06:36 PM:

Apropos of nothing except the sheer joy of something thought lost is found again.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=585&e=1&u=/nm/20050428/sc_nm/environment_woodpecker_dc

They kept it quiet for a year or two to get a good feel about location, get the local wildlife officials notified, etc. but the word is out. Ivory-billed Woodpeckers AREN'T Extinct. YEEEEEEE HAAAAAW! (They're a truly spectacular looking bird.)

#314 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 06:48 PM:

I saw that picture earlier today, Paula, and I immediately realized why they sometimes called it the Lord God bird--my first reaction was something like omigodwhatkindofabird isthat?

#315 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 08:06 PM:

I've got this horrible picture in my head of gleeful bumpkins heading for Arkansas with shotguns ready while the women of the household try to coax Great-grandma into remembering her recipe for woodpecker / okra gumbo.

#316 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 08:58 PM:

Mmmm, Woodpecker Gumbo.

Y'know, that road is so well traveled by packaged goods brand managers (typically devoted exclusively to W-M) that there must be a Starbucks every 150 feet or so. For pete's sake, you can get a nonstop flight from Newark.

***

Re: spinning cat hair, I had an eccentric aunt who spun wool from her samoyed's coat. Fine woman, sweet dog, slightly yucky idea.

#317 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 09:05 PM:

"The Ugly Chickens" is the short story closest to Stefan Jones' comment.

If my previous post was too mathy, here's one about a dialogue that I hadn't known about until this minute, with an explicitly literary flavor:

Eric W. Weisstein. "Newton-Pepys Problem." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

Samuel Pepys wrote Isaac Newton a long letter asking him to determine the probabilities for a set of dice rolls related to a wager he planned to make. Pepys asked which was more likely,

1. At least one six when six dice are rolled,
2. At last two sixes when 12 dice are rolled, or
3. At least three sixes when 18 dice are rolled.

Answer is at the hotlink, or for the reader's homework.

I always liked those Craps phrases, such as "boxcars", "snake eyes", and "eighter from Decatur."

#318 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 10:07 PM:

Craps is a noisy game, and the stickman (the one who hands out and rakes in the dice, as distinct from the boxman, who handles bets) needs to call out the roll and be heard. 11 is always called "yo-leven," so it isn't mistaken for 7, which is "Big Red." A "corner rug 6" is a four and two. 4 is Little Joe (and more rarely, 8 is Big Joe), 6 is Jimmy Hicks, the hard 10 (two 5s) can be "cherry boxes," and ones can be "aces" as well as "snake eyes." One guess what "midnight" is.

And when someone trying to make a point loses with a 5-2 seven, there are stickmen who like to say "that's cinco-dos and adios." A pair of place bets on 5 and 10 (that is, a bet, at any time, that "your" number will come up before a 7 -- is a "Woolworth," and a 10-4 at least usetabe a "Broderick Crawford," though I doubt even most of the staff would recognize that now. "Hardways" are doubles -- there's a line in Guys and Dolls where, after Big Julie announces that he has made his 10-point with the blank dice on which only Julie remembers the locations of the spots, a desperate Nathan Detroit says, "Tell me, Julie . . . didja make it the hard way?"

Legendary casino guy Barney Vinson to novice player: "There are three ways to roll a ten: 5-5, 6-4, and 7-3."
Novice: "What about 8-2?"
Barney: "Sir, if you roll the dice in las Vegas and they come up 8 and 2, you're in big trouble."

One of these days I have serious intentions of writing a novel set in Las Vegas in 1955 (a historically important year, but I've taken up too much time on this already) to be called The Year of the Hard Ten.

#319 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Larry, one of the things I read online about where they've found the woodpeckers is this time of year is almost past the time people can survive with any ease in that part of the woods.... it's so full of snakes, ticks, etc. plus the fact it's in a huge swamp (went to Mid Louisiana for a wedding, AAA route took us down MO Through Springfield, Little Rock and onwards -- Monroe is in the middle of the top of the L Louisiana makes. Just before Jim and I crossed the LA border we were both looking at one another thinking, "who did THAT? I sure didn't." The air around us smelled bad, like passing wind after eating too many thing like cabbage.. yikes!.).

#320 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 11:39 PM:

John M. Ford:

Colorful! Love to see your proposed fiction, even if you're half-joking. See also:

"Gonna Roll Them Bones", Fritz Leiber , Best Novelette Hugo, 1970.

Fuzzy Dice, by Paul Di Filippo, PS Publishing. 296 page hardback. Price (hardback): £35.00 (UK), $90.00(US).

The Iron Ring, by Lloyd Alexander.
When Tamar, king of Sundari loses a game of dice, he forfeits his life to another king named King Jaya who was stopping by for hospitality...

THE DICE MAN, by Luke Rhinehart, "Back in the late ’60s Luke wrote a novel called THE DICE MAN. It was a mild success, and it lived on through the years a sort of underground life, fed by readers fascinated by the idea of a person’s being able to explode out of a typical narrow existence by letting chance and risk into one’s life."

THE BOOK OF THE DIE, by Luke Rhinehart [Harper Collins UK, 2000; Overlook Press, USA, Mar 2002] "is the 'bible' of dice-living. It is a collection of essays, proverbs, parables, cartoons, poems, and , and six options that a die may be cast to choose among. All are intended to help free us from patterns which dam our lives--damning being considered undesirable."

Christopher Pike, The Last Vampire 3: Red Dice. $3.99. Sequel to The Last Vampire and The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood.

"God Doesn’t Play Dice With Packard Convertibles", by Brent Chesley.

Brian Rouff's entertaining first novel, "Dice Angel," just published by the boutique Hardway Press.

"His father was teaching his mother a game he'd just learned. He had five small dice that he kept in a prescription vial. It was like poker, he told her, and he showed her how to draw up a score sheet on a piece of scratch paper."
from F L A G S T A F F, a story by Lewis Shiner, The Raleigh News and Observer, 27 Dec 1998.

Il Bacio (Il Chiave) - "The Kiss (The Key)", by Tanith Lee, 6700 words.
"In a game of dice, Olivio di Giudea wins a key to a lady's bedchamber. But when Valore della Scorpioni leads him to the door which the key unlocks, their destination is an unexpected one."
Amazing Science Fiction Stories. Vol 57 No 3 (No 512), September 1983. Pages 87-88, 90-101.

"Lady with the Dice", Joel Townsley Rogers (1946).

#321 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 11:45 PM:

"slightly yucky idea"

Ahem!

I'm collecting the wads of black fur I pull off of my dog's brush in a big plastic bag. Someday it will become a woollen something or other.

#322 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 12:43 AM:

And there's a recent heavily illustrated edition of "Gonna Roll The Bones" with what look like silverpoint engravings by Barry Moser (he did it as a college project, and it's very different from his later work and quite gorgeous). Not what I'd call a kid's book, but that's how it was packaged.

#323 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 03:36 AM:

Stefan Jones:

And if you make a woollen whatever with a mixture of dog hair and cat hair, you get something soft, allergenic, and constantly chasing itself?

Somehow that reminds me of the joke by a child who'd heard a series of related jokes, not quite gotten the concept, and created this mutant metajoke:

Q: What's the difference between a crocodile?

[pause while audience boggles]

A: Because it swims faster than it runs!

#324 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:49 AM:

Tom - just checked a listing for the picture-book version of "Gonna Roll The Bones"; apparently Fritz Leiber's original story has been substantially cut to adapt it to the form (like plays adapted to opera).
But the name given as the illustrator is David Wiesner. Is one a nom de pencil, or is there confusion?

#325 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 07:05 AM:

Stefan -

Perhaps we can come up with a patterned garment. I'm saving his fur for a friend who spins.

#326 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 09:08 AM:

JVP, the only one of those links that works is http://dogfeathers.com/java/hyprcube.html

How long have you had them sitting around?

#327 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 09:59 AM:

Tiger Spot:

"So, great-grandfather, tell me again. How did galactic civilization come crashing down?"

"Well, young whippersnapper, I can answer in two words: LINK ROT!"

My website is in its 10th year. The majority of my links have evapoarted. Sorry I forgot to check before posting.

#328 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 09:59 AM:

Baby otter picture here.

Baby hamster picture here.

I think my cute-ometer is pegged now.

#329 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:18 PM:

Tom: I'm also wondering about that attribution. IIRC, "Gonna Roll The Bones" came out (in DV) in 1967; I was building sets for Barry Moser in high school (1968-1971) and don't recall him being fresh out of college then. Could be my recollection is shaky; I've since heard that he was a preacher before turning to art, so "fresh out of college" wouldn't mean age 21. But he would have had to get to the story very quickly -- and I'd wonder how, as I never heard of him reading SF.

JvP: if you insist on being exhaustive, look up the back issues of Tournaments Illuminated; one of them filks an old tune to tell of the two Olavs, who diced for whether a border village would be in Norway or Sweden.

#330 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:24 PM:

That's because it was my brain at fault -- it's David Wiesner, not Barry Moser!

#331 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:25 PM:

If people want cat hair to spin, I'd be happy to send them the contents of my lint filter.

I drove today on the road that has our city's light industry on one side and I grin every time I go by. Each of the larger businesses has their own street and street name. Jerry's Circle is Jerry's Auto Parts. I-Beam Drive is Arlington Ironworks. Roberts Road is Roberts Oxygen. And Litho Lane is Payne Publishing.

#332 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 06:15 PM:

Has anyone posted the Baen Free Library, and has it been discussed?

Apologies if it already has been. I've only been poking my head in from time to time lately. Here's the URL:

http://www.baen.com/library/

#333 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 11:38 PM:

Baen free library -- it's been mentioned from time to time.

It's seemed to increase sales of paper copies of books, so must be seen as a good thing.

On the other hand:

Pan Macmillan goes spectacularly nuts.

#334 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 12:59 AM:

James D. Macdonald:

You're right again.

"... writers receive no advance and may have to bear editing costs..."

Nothing else in the article mitigates this lunacy.

The Guardian carefully interviews people to give a purportedly objective view, half in favor of blatant theft, half against it. Fair and balanced, eh?

"If you'd spent years and years working on your novel and no agent will look at it you'd be bloody grateful for this." Excuuuuuse me! If I spent years and years working on a novel, I think I could afford to spend a few days sending query letters directly to editors, right? And maybe a few days sending some chapters as stand-alone short story submissions, don't you think?

I won't waste the time to refute the straw man about "we can't do that by paying a half million advance to every author."

Does Macmillan think that all authors are fools, or are they just trying to breed a race of authorsd who are happy to be deltas and epsilons?

#335 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 01:24 AM:

* Terms are unnegotiable,
* Macmillan will acquire all rights, and
* If it wishes, can publish a second book under the same terms as the first.

And why are these benefactors of humanity doing this?

"This is about Macmillan finding new authors," Barnard said. "Like a lot of mainstream publishers we haven't in recent years been accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but only ones sent through agents. And we are not discovering as many authors as we need."

If their problem is caused by not accepting unsolicited manuscripts ... an easy solution seems to present itself.

I predict that this scheme will go the same route as Time-Warner's iPublish program, ending with a smoking crater.

#336 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 08:26 AM:

"There are loads of gems on people's slush piles," says a Waterstone's manager. Oh yes, and I've got a lovely bridge he might want to look at.

#337 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 08:32 PM:

He said the books [...] would be "very posh books" with ribbon markers, sold at £15..

Which pretty much guarantees they won't sell.

Jamie Byng, who runs Canongate Books, said: "[...] If you'd spent years and years working on your novel and no agent will look at it you'd be bloody grateful for this."

I don't know about anyone else, but if I'd spent years on a novel and couldn't persuade an agent to look at it, I'd maybe make the conclusion it's because the book wasn't any good, rather than because there's a flaw in the process...

#338 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 09:31 PM:

Paul: there are lots of reasons a book doesn't get looked at besides it not being good. One is author diffidence, another is bad query letters, another is bad timing. There are others. Anyway, I think it's not fair, sensible or helpful to assume that all the writers who aren't already successful are no good. There are lots of authors who have reason to think they've written something somebody else might want to read who don't seem to be able to connect with traditional publishing.

These people might seem like the natural prey for creepy programs like this Macmillan one. But there are better solutions. If you can let go of the hope of making a living on it, there's a nice way to get an audience in amateur web publishing. There's really vibrant fiction happening in that context, and an audience which at least seems really large. Otherwise there are various ways of getting people to pay you to read your stuff online, from the simple straightforward but I don't know how lucrative strategy of asking for donations to all kinds of subscriptions and payment schemes.

It's just this -- if they're not going to pay you, and they're not going to promote you, and all you're going to see for your work is some kind of royalty -- you may as well keep the rights at least.

#339 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 09:37 PM:

This reminds me of when Penguin-Putnam came up with Inside Sessions. Remember that?

#340 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 03:47 AM:

The Power of Words Dept.:
No booze needed for beer goggles
Roxanne Khamsi
Fast flashes of certain words can affect your libido.

Published online: 28 April 2005; | doi:10.1038/news050425-5

"The mere thought of beer or wine can influence your sex drive, according to a study of undergraduates. Alcohol has long been known to have a number of effects on dating behaviour: some good, some bad. Enough booze can wipe away inhibitions and act as an aphrodisiac, or it can dampen sexual performance. It can even produce what are jokingly called 'beer goggles', which mean you judge people as more attractive when you are drunk. But scientists now say that whatever effect someone expects from alcohol can be produced by simple exposure to flashes of alcohol-related words on a computer screen...."

#341 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 06:19 AM:

Lucy:

there are lots of reasons a book doesn't get looked at besides it not being good. One is author diffidence, another is bad query letters, another is bad timing. There are others.

This is true; bad timing will only account for so many, but I guess the others are more perpetual.

Anyway, I think it's not fair, sensible or helpful to assume that all the writers who aren't already successful are no good.

Maybe I phrased it badly, but that is not what I meant. What I meant was that if you have a novel which has been rejected umpteen times, by X different agents all over the place, I would think it fairly likely that the problem is the quality of the book.

(Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but they are the exceptions!)

Maybe I should think more carefully before posting next time I've had a few pints. :)

#342 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 08:04 AM:

Spotted something both the science-based & other people here might find a good subject to discuss. (And priceless chances for name-dropping.)

www.spiked-online.com/sections/science/sciencesurvey/
Spiked's Survey "If you could teach the world just one thing"
2005 - announced as Einstein Year - marks the centenary of the publication of Albert Einstein's equation E = mc2. [Ahem; and some other stuff - Ep.] To mark this occasion, Sandy Starr at spiked and science communicator Alom Shaha have conducted a survey of over 250 renowned scientists, science communicators, and educators - including 11 Nobel laureates - asking what they would teach the world about science and why, if they could pick just one thing. Alom Shaha, who conceived the survey, has made four accompanying films in which interviewees talk through their responses.

Spiked's Survey Responses - Index list by name (a v quick scan shows they are mostly UK & USA )

A summary of the responses

#343 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 09:58 AM:

Epacris:

"(And priceless chances for name-dropping.)"

Back in '05, when Larry Fine and I played fiddle with Al Einstein...

#344 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 12:58 PM:

Andy Perrin - thanks for your kind comment on the cuteness of the baby otter. Strangely enough, it wasn't just a lucky shot - she really is that adorable just about all the time. Nine months of slaving away in the cute factory really paid off!

#345 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 10:25 PM:

And in case anybody is still pondering the "non-fiction novel", Critical Mass has a discussion of this topic, referring to Truman Capote and the more recent Jonathan Krakauer novel, Under the Banner of Heaven.

#346 ::: Richard ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Hello, all. I'm just posting on here to let you know that this page is a Googlewhack. If you're wondering what a Googlewhack is it is basically two words that turn up only one result in the Google search engine. You can see the rules here.

The two words were "overhead" and "bereaveds." You can see my result posted here.

Thanks!

#347 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2006, 04:23 PM:

"Hello, all. I'm just posting on here to let you know that this page is a Googlewhack."

hmm, the slush noted in passing post should also have been a googlewhack, because I've found a conjunction of two words in there that produce 0 hits on google.

#348 ::: Niall McAuley sees marble quarrying spam at #348 ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Heavy spam.

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